The no deal ferry firm that was handed a £13.8million Government contract despite owning no ships copied its terms and conditions from a takeaway shop, it was claimed today.
Seaborne Freight’s website includes a long run of small print that featured a section about ‘placing an order’ that placed an obligation on a customer to check their ‘meal’.
The clause has already been deleted from the company’s website but not before the firm and the Government were ridiculed by Labour MPs.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has already been lashed for signing off the deal – prompting him to claim the Government is ‘supporting new businesses’.
Seaborne chief executive Ben Sharp – a former submarine officer in the Royal Navy – insisted on Monday his company would be ready to run the service if needed.
The no deal ferry firm that was handed a £13.8million Government contract despite owning no ships copied its terms and conditions from a takeaway shop, it was claimed today (pictured is Tom Watson highlighting the gaffe)
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling (pictured yesterday in London) has already been lashed for signing off the deal – prompting him to claim the Government is ‘supporting new businesses’
The £13.8million deal is to provide a twice daily lorry ferry service between Ramsgate, Kent, and Belgium in a no deal Brexit that causes delays at Dover.
Who is behind the no deal Brexit ferry firm?
Ben Sharp, chief executive – a former submariner who served 10 years in the Royal Navy before setting up a series of shipping firms.
Glenn Dudley, director and chief operating officer – the ex-freight sales and marketing manager for My Ferry Link, which operated two cross-Channel ferries.
Jean-Michel Copyans, director – ex-cargo director at My Ferry Link.
Seaborne owns no ferries and has never run a cross-Channel service but insists it will be ready to deliver on the contract if called upon in the spring.
The firm’s website read: ‘It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.’
It also said: ‘Delivery charges are calculated per order and based on [delivery details here].’
In another section, the terms read: ‘Users are prohibited from making false orders through our website.’
It added: ‘Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited reserves the right to seek compensation through legal action for any losses incurred as the result of hoax delivery requests and will prosecute to the full extent of the law.’
Labour deputy Tom Watson spotted the glaring error in Seaborne Freight’s published terms and conditions.
He tweeted: ‘Seaborne Freight. No ships, no trading history and website T&Cs copied and pasted from a takeaway delivery site…’
Ilford MP Mike Gapes posted: ‘Well. Well. Fish and Chips, Curry, Chinese, Kebab or Pizza. Seaborne Freight certainly have plans to Take Away our money.’
And Bristol North West MP Darren Jones added: ‘Hilarious. Government Hard Brexit start-up champion Seaborne Freight Limited reserves the right to sue you if you order a hoax pizza.’
Labour MP and Best for Britain supporter Tonia Antoniazzi said: ‘This is beyond a joke.
‘It’s not just that the government have panic-hired a firm with no ships to conduct ferry services.
Jean-Michel Copyans (file image), the former cargo director at My Ferry Link, is among the directors of the new firm Seaborne Freight
The contract is one of several signed by ministers as a contingency plan in case no deal leaves the main Dover-Calais route (file) in chaos
‘That firm has literally nothing prepared to suggests the £13.8m handed over to them is a sound investment.
‘The whole thing looks like a scam website. I can’t think of a worse way to show the world we’re ready for Brexit.’
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Before any contract was signed, due diligence on Seaborne Freight was carried out both by senior officials at the Department for Transport, and highly reputable independent third party organisations with significant experience and expertise into Seaborne’s financial, technical and legal underpinning.
‘This section of the terms and conditions on the company’s website was put up in error. This has now been rectified.’
A spokesman for Seaborne Freight told the Standard: ‘Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited (SFL) is currently making preparations across its business for re-introducing the Ramsgate to Ostend Ferry service and has been working on the project for the past two years.
‘Naturally these preparations include ongoing updates to its pre-launch website, including T&Cs.’
The gaffe emerged as ministers launched a no-deal Brexit publicity blitz ahead of the crunch Commons vote on Theresa May’s deal due in two weeks time.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay today said Whitehall departments and the health regulator will begin publishing guidance on how the public can get ready.
The information campaign, which will also see broadcasts on radio and social media, comes after the Government sought to advise businesses on how they might best prepare for no deal.
With the showdown in Parliament set for the week beginning January 14, an advertising campaign will warn over ‘disruption’ to travel and medicine if the UK crashes out of the bloc in March.
Advice will include renewing passports earlier than planned – likely to ensure they have at least six months validity during any no deal disruption.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Michael Gove warned if Britain leaves without a deal ‘turbulence would be considerable’ and have a ‘grim’ impact on farmers.
Ministers are launching a no-deal Brexit publicity blitz ahead of the crunch Commons vote on Theresa May’s deal as the PM arrives back in Downing Street for the first time this year (pictured)
Mrs May has the Christmas break calling round EU counterparts including Angela Merkel and Spain’s Pedro Sanchez pleading for legal guarantees that the Irish border ‘backstop’ cannot last indefinitely.
But at the same time the government is stepping up contingency plans for leaving without any agreement in three months’ time.
In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference today, Mr Gove said Britain would ‘flourish’ in time if it left without a deal – but that it would cause short term disruption.
What tariffs could be imposed on UK food after a no deal Brexit?
Michael Gove warned today if there is a no deal Brexit, food exported from Britain to the EU could be subject to charges as it crosses the border.
The tarrifs could be:
Beef 65 per cent
Lamb 46 per cent
Whole milk 70 per cent
Poultry 14 per cent
He said: ‘It would hit worst small farmers and small food producers.’
The Environment Secretary said tariffs, border checks, potential delays for recognition of organic products and labour pressures would all add to costs for food producers.
‘Nobody can be blithe or blase about the real impacts on food producers in this country of leaving without the deal,’ he told the conference.
Mr Gove said it was a ‘grim and inescapable fact’ that no deal would mean 40 per cent or worse tariffs on meat exporters. He said even if a further fall in the pound boosts exports, it would also fuel inflation at home – hitting farms harder still.
Mr Barclay said that no deal will be ‘far more likely’ if MPs reject the Mrs May’s package in the vote, due to be held in the week beginning January 14.
‘The pace and intensity of the work we are doing reflects the potential scale of this disruption to people and businesses across the UK that a no-deal scenario could bring,’ Mr Barclay wrote in the Daily Express.
‘The Home Office will next week be publicising guidance on new passport rules for people travelling to many European countries.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Michael Gove (pictured today at the Oxford Farming Conference) warned if Britain leaves without a deal ‘turbulence would be considerable’
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay today said Whitehall departments and the health regulator will begin publishing guidance on how the public can get ready
‘These rules would mean some people have to renew their passport earlier than planned. Advice is already available online and next week the Home Office will further publicise how to renew a passport as easily as possible.
What are the no deal Brexit plans which have been enacted?
Here are the emergency no deal plans which have been activated:
Some 3,500 troops are on standby for no deal Brexit
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the troops could be used by any department as needed – but that no specific requests had yet been made for them.
Ministers will book space on ferries to ensure critical supplies, such as medicines, can get in if there are long queues at the borders
Families are to to be given advice on how to prepare for a no deal Brexit
Up to 10,000 lorries could be parked in Kent if no deal causes delays at the ports
The Kent authorities have warned that the gridlock could mean pupils miss school and exams, while bodies could pile up
‘The Department for Transport is sharing guidance on how we will ensure people can continue to travel to the EU in the event of no deal, and today the medicines regulator has updated guidance to ensure regulatory processes for medicines, medical devices and clinical trials are fit for purpose.
‘And, on Tuesday, we will start a new phase in our public information campaign, using radio and social media to further raise awareness.’
Despite Downing Street’s hopes, there is little sign that the Christmas break has changed the minds of more than 100 Tory MPs pledged to vote against the EU deal.
Ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis today urged Mrs May to pull the vote again. It was already delayed from last month when the premier admitted she faced a catastrophic defeat.
Mr Davis said the EU would back down on Ireland at the ‘eleventh hour’ because it is reluctant to make concessions but does want its £39billion divorce payment.
Mr Davis, in a column for the Daily Telegraph, said: ‘The Withdrawal Agreement does not respect the referendum result.
‘That is why the meaningful vote had to be delayed and one wonders if even the January vote will go ahead.
‘Attempts to frighten MPs into supporting it are unlikely to work, because voting down this substandard deal will not result in no Brexit.’
Elsewhere, one senior Tory MP told MailOnline that winning over the DUP, the Northern Irish party propping up the Tories in Parliament, was crucial.