Essex: Stansted campaigners launch legal challenge against Airports Commission (From Braintree and Witham Times)
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Essex: Stansted campaigners launch legal challenge against Airports Commission
12:00pm Monday 14th October 2013 in News
Campaigners hope a legal challenge will put the breaks on the potential expansion of Stansted Airport.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) believes the Airports Commission, which has been tasked with reviewing the UK’s air capacity needs, has been subject to bias.
SSE representatives filed a judicial review at the High Court today, asking for the selection criteria for air expansion to be re-determined.
The group believes the role of Geoff Muirhead, the former chief executive of Stansted’s owner, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), on the commission has created a conflict of interest.
Mr Muirhead has been an ambassador for MAG since stepping down as its chief executive in October 2010.
He resigned from the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, three weeks ago.
SSE economics adviser Brian Ross said: "For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the commission as its only commissioner with first hand knowledge and experience of the aviation industry.
“He was therefore in a powerful position to shape the decisions and judgements of the commission to favour the interests of MAG and that is precisely what we fear he may have done.
“We will be asking the High Court to order the commission to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved.
“There is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “As we said at the time of Mr Muirhead’s departure, both the department and Sir Howard agree there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.”
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