MP for Aylesbury asks PM if HS2 workers should 'stay at home to save lives' during coronavirus crisis

The MP for Aylesbury has made an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister to suspend work on HS2 following our report of one of their contractors appearing to deliberately cough over a protester in Steeple Claydon.

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th March 2020, 1:18 pm

Earlier this week we became aware of video footage of a HS2 contractor coughing over a protester in Steeple Claydon and were also sent photos of large groups of HS2 workers gathered close together, in clear violation of the current social distancing rules in place to combat coronavirus.

Our report, including the video of the HS2 worker coughing over the protester, can be viewed here.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday during Prime Minister's Questions, the MP for Aylesbury, Rob Butler, said: "Does the Prime Minister share my concern that the contractors for HS2 limited are not following the very clear Government advice on coronavirus?

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MP for Aylesbury Rob Butler at PMQs on 25 March

“This is not, to be clear, about the rights and wrongs of HS2, it is about the safety of us all because my constituents have seen not only contractors blatantly fail to stick to the rules but they've observed them coughing over concerned residents causing great distress - should they stay at home to save lives?"

Boris Johnson replied: “Mr Speaker we've been very clear that everybody should work at home if they possibly can and construction should only take place in a way that is in accordance with Public Health England and industry advice.”

The day before, Mr Butler wrote a letter to HS2 Ltd CEO, Mark Thurston, in which he said: “I am extremely concerned to hear that your contractors are still working despite the government's clear advice that everybody should stay at home to save lives unless their job is essential to fighting Coronavirus."

"What is even more shocking is that I have reports from constituents that contractors have been coughing over concerned residents, some of whom are likely to be in the vulnerable category as defined by the Chief Medical Officer.”

After seeing our report, the MP for Buckingham, Greg Smith, also wrote to Mr Thurston. In his letter he stated: “Let’s be perfectly clear, people are dying and if we don’t all follow the instructions of the government, issued on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, many more will needlessly die.

“Yet I have seen photographs of those undertaking HS2 works crowding together and a video of one individual even coughing over nearby people, seemingly on purpose to move them out of his way. This is disgraceful.”