Business Law & Compliance

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Ghost underground station entrepreneur to sue TfL for IP theft

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Former Barclays banker Ajit Chambers has announced plans to challenge TfL over a contract to turn disused stations into tourist attractions, bars and restaurants.

Since he unearthed a map of 26 ghost stations in 2009, Chambers founded the Old London Underground Company, hoping to renovate the disused stations. 

The proposal has been backed by 66 MPs, including former business secretary Vince Cable and London mayor Boris Johnson. 

At the time, Graeme Craig, commercial director for TfL, said: “We need to up our game. We are sitting on the best assets in the world. We need to shamelessly work with the best delivery partners available. However, we are equally keen to support those who come to us with great ideas to unlock our assets.” 

In May 2015, TfL opened a tender for converting Down Street station into an “an extraordinary world of unexplored and untapped potential, right beneath the surface of the most diverse, vibrant and exciting city in the world”.

However, Chambers’ bid was ruled out of the bidding process. He suggested that he presented “the design of a tourist attraction into Mayfair’s Down Street ghost station” to TfL in good faith, but now he’s suing TfL for “attempting to steal his Intellectual Property – including the company name”.

He told the Telegraph: “I strongly believe TfL’s procurement process is seriously flawed. We’ve been led down the garden path. It tried to discard us. I now believe we’re never going to win this and I don’t want to be part of a process which may be unlawful. This is a project I’ve been working on for so long, and TfL’s plans draw so heavily on my ideas, I really feel like this has been improperly handled.”

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Chambers also suggested that his firm was given “inappropriate” access ahead of other bidders.

“We have been given the advantage all the way along,” he said. “I have enough evidence of that to stop the procurement process. We are falling on our sword for this because we need to put off the process. It’s very important this project is done openly, and done properly, for the benefit of the capital.”

A TfL spokesman said: “We’ve had a fantastic response from a variety of companies following our search for a partner to transform Down Street disused station. We have evaluated the submissions we received, and have shortlisted a company as our potential partner.

“Although Chambers may be disappointed with our decision, we have held an open and fair procurement process. We will now enter into negotiations with our preferred bidder and hope to make an announcement shortly about the new commercial future of Down Street disused station.”

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