Mace HS2 silk is £650 an hour QC

Firm hires Monckton Chambers’ Michael Bowsher, described as ‘Mr Procurement’, in HS2 battle

The QC Mace has hired in its battle with HS2 over a £170m contract is a silk at top London barristers’ chambers Monckton Chambers – who charges £650 an hour.

Mace has brought in Michael Bowsher (pictured) to carry out work on the case and a spokesperson said: “I can confirm we have instructed Michael Bowsher QC to advise us on our next steps.”

The latest edition of QC bible Chambers UK said of Bowsher: “He is Mr Procurement and you’d struggle to find someone with greater knowledge and experience.”

According to his profile on Monckton Chambers’ website, Bowsher has “been involved in many other highly significant disputes. Those in which his involvement is in the public domain include recent disputes concerning the privatisation of air traffic control at London Gatwick Airport, tender disputes regarding a number of major defence contracts [and] disputes over the tendering for emergency telecommunications systems in the UK”.

One legal expert told Building: “Monckton Chambers are very well known in their field, especially for public procurement. He [Bowsher] is very good at what he does.”

Mace is believed to be concerned that its bid was compromised because of the recent decision by HS2 Ltd, which is responsible for building the network, to appoint CH2M European managing director Mark Thurston as its new chief executive.

Thurston joined earlier this month and replaces interim Roy Hill, who was himself seconded to the client from CH2M and will return to the engineer at the end of this month.

But there is growing frustration among senior figures at Mace that a follow-up meeting to one the pair held earlier this month has still not been held.

A second meeting between HS2 and Mace over the decision to appoint CH2M to the development partner role on the second phase will now take place at the end of this week – having been postponed twice already.

The spokesperson added: “It is right and proper that HS2 are taking our concerns over conflict of interest and tender process seriously. However, it is taking a significant amount of time for HS2 to conclude their investigations.”

HS2 has not formally awarded the contract to the US consultant CH2M more than three weeks after it was supposed to.

A HS2 spokesperson said: “We’re in discussion with one of the bidders and will make a statement in due course.”

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