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Sea battle on horizon for Johnson in wake of no-deal ferry contract row

P&O Ferries has sued the Department for Transport.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a Brexit-related high court case next year (Rui Vieira/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a Brexit-related high court case next year (Rui Vieira/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a Brexit-related high court case next year (Rui Vieira/PA)

A Brexit-related High Court battle is on the distant horizon for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

P&O Ferries sued the Department for Transport after ministers in March agreed a £33 million payment to Eurotunnel as part of a settlement in another case.

Bosses say the settlement constitutes “unlawful interference” in a competitive market.

Transport ministers dispute P&O’s claim.

A judge on Monday said a trial would start at the High Court in London on November 16 2020.

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Chris Grayling awarded more than £100 million in contracts to three ferry companies as part of plans for a no-deal Brexit (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Chris Grayling awarded more than £100 million in contracts to three ferry companies as part of plans for a no-deal Brexit (Isabel Infantes/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Chris Grayling awarded more than £100 million in contracts to three ferry companies as part of plans for a no-deal Brexit (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Mr Justice Fraser set a date while analysing a number of legal issues at a preliminary hearing in London.

The trial is expected to last more than two weeks.

Eurotunnel had taken legal action after then Transport Secretary Chris Grayling awarded more than £100 million in contracts to three ferry companies as part of plans for a no-deal Brexit.

The contracts, which were subsequently cancelled, attracted widespread criticism in the wake of reports that one company, Seaborne Freight, had been awarded a £13.8 million contract to run services between Ramsgate, Kent, and Ostend, Belgium, despite having no ships.

Bosses at Eurotunnel had complained about the procurement process for those contracts.

PA