DP World loses status as partner in Solent Freeport

P&O Car Ferry from Cairnryan Scotland to Larne Harbour in Northern Ireland on 6th Dec 2020

DP World has resigned from the Solent Freeport Board and is no longer a partner in the Freeport consortium.

The move from the global operator comes after P&O Ferries – operated by DP World – sparked outrage when sacking 800 staff members during a video call last month.

DP World is the operator of the freight container terminal at the Port of Southampton, a part of the Solent Freeport. UK commercial director, Aart Hille Ris Lambers, has resigned from the board.

The information follows questions from Lord Macpherson and Baroness Natalie Bennett in the House of Lords on what plans were being put in place to withdraw any freeport contracts due to the sackings.

On 28 March, Lord Greenhalgh replied that the government was: “Working to urgently understand the facts of what happened in this case and establish whether DP World was in breach of any requirements.”

DP World has declined to comment.

© Sky News via YouTube

P&O’s boss Peter Hebblethwaite admitted to MPs that the company broke the law by sacking staff without consultation: “There’s absolutely no doubt we were required to consult with the unions. We chose not to do that.”

The company is also heavily involved as a partner in the Thames scheme.

Lord Greenhalgh appeared to suggest the company still had a role as a partner in the project: “The government is continuing to work to understand whether DP World or P&O Ferrymasters are in breach of any of the requirements on them as investors in the Thames freeport.”

Freeports aim to create economic activity near shipping ports or airports.

In his statement, Lord Greenhalgh added: “Freeports are expected to receive around £25 million ($33 million) seed capital, paid to a local authority and to be invested at sites within the freeport geography.

“Release of funding is subject to approval of a full business case and currently, no full business cases have been approved.”

Earlier last month, DP World announced its financial results for 2021, reporting revenue growth of 26.3 per cent to $10.7 billion.

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