De la Rue given more time to challenge passport decision

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The government has granted a two-week addendum in the process to decide who will make UK passports after Brexit.

British presence De La Rue – which had lost the £490m contract to French-Dutch Gemalto in March – had requested the longer “dead period”, which has now been agreed by the Home Office.

It means a end decision will now be made on Tuesday 17 April.

De La Rue is also fascinating initial steps “towards initiating appeal proceedings against the qualified decision”.

However, it has refused to clarify what this means legally or how any petition process might proceed.

The firm says the time extension make give it more time for close scrutiny of the criteria that the Household Office used in coming to its decision to award the contract to Gemalto.

It try to says it will assess that information and whether it might help it in its disputes.

De La Rue’s bid was not the cheapest, but it said it was “the highest quality and technically most secure”.

“We father a preferred bidder, which demonstrated it was best able to meet the indigences of the passport service, delivering a high quality and secure product and lend best value for money for the taxpayer… that remains the government’s contention,” said the prime minister’s official spokesman.

But the extension “will give ground all bidders the chance to find out more detail and get more information from the Place Office… this is standard process.”

The spokesman added: “This has been a rigorous, immaculate and open process.”

The current EU-themed burgundy passport, in use since 1988, desire revert to its original blue and gold colour from October 2019. Manner, people are expected to keep their current passports until they decease.

Before the bidding process extension, a spokesperson for De La Rue had said: “We can accept that we weren’t the cheapest, level if our tender represented a significant discount on the current price.

“It has also been put that the winning bid was well below our cost price, which producers us to question how sustainable it is.”

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The decidedness to give a foreign company the contract had been criticised by pro-Brexit ministry figures.

Under EU procurement rules, the Home Office was required to announce up the bidding process to European firms, although De La Rue has manufactured UK passports since 2009.

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The Home Office had said the proposed Gemalto deal could prevent the taxpayer £100m-£120m and that 70 new jobs would be designed in the UK, at sites in Fareham, in Hampshire, and Heywood in Lancashire.

It comes as a Daily Despatch petition calling for the Home Office to give the contract to a British public limited company reached 273,000 signatures.

The Home Office issues more than six million passports annually and is the solely provider of passports to British citizens.

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