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Britain in hefty payout to US firm ‘Border security contract unlawfully terminated’

LONDON, Aug 18, (AFP): Britain will make a hefty payout to a US defence company after a tribunal found London had unlawfully terminated a contract to provide the country’s electronic borders programme. The verdict was revealed in a letter from Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Home Office interior ministry must pay £224 million ($375 million 280 million euros) to Raytheon Systems Limited (RSL). Of that sum, £126 million is for assets such as computer systems the company delivered prior to the contract being terminated, while £50 million is in damages. The eBorders programme was devised in 2003 to count everyone in and out of Britain by collecting advance passenger information on all scheduled inbound and outbound journeys. “We are looking carefully at the tribunal’s detailed conclusions to see if there are any grounds for challenging the award,” May said in a letter to lawmaker Keith Vaz, who chairs the parliamentary body scrutinising her ministry’s activities. “The government stands by the decision to end the eBorders contract with Raytheon.

This decision was, and remains, the most appropriate action to address the well-documented issues with the delivery and management of the programme.” May said major milestones had been missed by Raytheon in 2010 and parts of the programme were running at least a year behind schedule. The situation was “a mess with no attractive options”, she said. “All other alternatives available to the government would have led to greater costs than the result of this tribunal ruling.” A new version of the electronic borders system is still being developed. In a statement, Raytheon said the tribunal ruling confirmed that RSL delivered “substantial capabilities” to the Home Office under the eBorders programme. “Raytheon remains committed to partnering with the UK government on key defence, national security and commercial pursuits,” it added.

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