Lib Dems demand public inquiry into P&O sacking scandal

The Liberal Democrats have called for an independent public inquiry into the sacking of 800 P&O Ferries workers on the Government’s watch to be launched.

The party has written a letter to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, demanding that an inquiry start without delay so that “families can get the answers they deserve”.

The letter asserts that Chris Grayling should be the first to be questioned after it has emerged that he failed to close a loophole in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act during his tenure as Secretary of State for Transport. The oversight has protected P&O from prosecution in spite of their failure to inform of the sackings in writing 45 days prior.

It comes after it was revealed that the firm will take delivery of 2 ‘superferries’ just months after the decision to sack a large proportion of its staff, the repayments for which are huge. The Liberal Democrats have slammed the company as being like a “cowboy operator”.

The inquiry would have the power to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath, including current government ministers and officials, and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications – including those pertaining to meetings between current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and DP World last November after it was suggested that he had been warned that P&O would be needing to make changes to their business.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: “P&O has been like a cowboy operator, accountable to nobody but itself. It takes bare-faced cheek to shamefully sack your entire workforce and bring two ‘superferries’ into your fleet just months after.

Alistair Carmichael MP

“It’s now clear that nothing less than an independent public inquiry would be enough to get to the bottom of this scandal, and Chris Grayling should be first up at the pass to answer serious questions about his own role. The failure to close this loophole is incompetence at best, and something altogether more fishy at worst.

“This sorry saga happened on the Government’s watch. They failed at every turn to protect people’s livelihoods and now they must be answerable to those families whose lives have been thrown into disarray and uncertainty.”

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