Update: De La Rue challenge to UK passport ruling

De La Rue decision to appeal the UK government’s decision to award the new passport contract to Franco-Dutch rival Gemalto has resulted in a two-week extension to the final verdict.

The UK Home Office has agreed to the 'standstill period', deferring a decision until April 17, says the BBC. De L Rue – which has produced the UK document for the last nine years of a 10-year contract that ends in 2019 – said last month it was considering an appeal over the loss of the £400m contract. It is also preparing a challenge in the courts, according to a Financial Times report.

The company acknowledges it did not provide the cheapest bid in the tender process, but said in a statement that “based on our knowledge of the market, it’s our view that ours was the highest quality and technically most secure bid. In the light of this, we are confident that we remain the best and most secure option in the national interest.”

The Home Office has suggested it will save £120m over the course of the new £490m contract by going with Gemalto, and insists it is adhering to EU procurement rules. It also said 20 per cent of blank passport books are currently produced in outside the UK in Europe.

De La Rue says it is particularly unhappy because it is unable to compete for contracts to make the French and German passports because of national security issues, and believes a similar approach should be taken by the UK. It also told the BBC it suspects the winning bid was below its own cost price “which causes us to question how sustainable it is.”

The company hasn’t ruled out job losses at its Gateshead facility as a result of the decision, while Gemalto has said 70 new jobs will be created in the UK – at sites in Fareham, Hampshire, and Heywood, Lancashire – to handle the new contract.

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