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Sir Thomas Philip Winsor (born 7 December 1957) is Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, a position he has held since 1 October 2012. He is a British lawyer and economic regulatory professional. Between July 1999 and July 2004, he held public office as the Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator for Great Britain. On 1 October 2010, he was appointed by UK Home Secretary Theresa May MP to carry out a wide-ranging review of the remuneration and conditions of service of police officers and staff in England & Wales, the first for over 30 years. He was knighted on 19 March 2015.
- 1 Legal career
- 2 HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary
- 3 Review of police officers' & staff pay and conditions
- 4 Rail Regulator 1999-2004
- 4.1 Appointment
- 4.2 New regulatory approach
- 4.3 Overall achievements
- 4.4 Problems with Railtrack
- 4.5 Hatfield and its aftermath
- 4.6 New financial settlement for Railtrack
- 4.7 New chairman - secret negotiations with government
- 4.8 Threat to independent regulation
- 4.9 Adverse City and industry reaction
- 4.10 Railtrack - how to end the administration
- 4.11 £22.2 billion settlement
- 4.12 Comments on communities 'born under other skies'
- 4.13 End of term
- 4.14 Controversy and court
- 5 References
Winsor was born in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, the third son and fifth child of Thomas V M Winsor and Phyllis Bonsor. He was educated at Grove Academy state comprehensive school, Broughty Ferry. In 1976, he went to the University of Edinburgh to study law. After graduation in 1979, he served his two-year Scots legal apprenticeship with Dundee law firms Thorntons & Dickies, and practised for a year after that doing mainly litigation in Dundee Sheriff Court. In 1982 he enrolled as a postgraduate student at the Centre for Petroleum and Mineral Law Studies of the University of Dundee under Professor T C Daintith, and received a Diploma in Petroleum Law in 1983.
Winsor became a Writer to the Signet (WS) in 1984.
He was employed as a solicitor by the leading Edinburgh law firm Dundas & Wilson from 1983 until 1984, from where he moved to London and joined City law firm Norton Rose, specialising in energy law and project finance. In 1991 he left Norton Rose to become a partner in City law firm Denton Hall, where he worked first on the design and implementation of the regulatory regime for the privatisation of the electricity industry in Northern Ireland.
After the flotation of Northern Ireland Electricity plc on the London stock exchange in 1993, Winsor was seconded to the Government Legal Service as chief legal adviser and general counsel to the first Rail Regulator, John Swift QC. The Rail Regulator was the statutory officer established by the Railways Act 1993 for the economic regulation of the British railway industry, which was about to be privatised. Winsor's secondment lasted two years and he returned to Denton Hall in August 1995. With his partners, over the following four years he built a successful railway and regulatory law practice, working on some of the most important railway projects in the UK, including the financing of the first phase of High Speed 1 and the upgrade of the West Coast main line.
Between July 2004 and September 2012, he was a partner in the London office of White & Case, the international law firm headquartered in New York. In that time, his practice began predominantly in UK rail matters, but it soon expanded to cover transport and infrastructure matters in the Far East, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. His advice was often sought on matters of the design and reform of economic regulatory systems, as well as major infrastructure projects. He resigned as a partner of White & Case on 30 September 2012, in order to take up appointment as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary the following day.
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary
On 7 June 2012, the Home Office announced that Winsor had been selected by the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, as her preferred candidate to replace Sir Denis O'Connor as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England & Wales. On 26 June 2012, Winsor appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons for a pre-appointment hearing. The Committee supported his appointment by a majority of eight to one. He was then recommended formally to the Prime Minister and the Queen for appointment as HM Chief Inspector, and royal approval was given on 3 July 2012. His term of office is three years. Winsor is the first Chief Inspector of Constabulary to be appointed from outside the police service. As of 2015, Winsor was paid a salary of between £195,000 and £199,999 by the department, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.
In July 2013, he gave the 2013 John Harris Memorial Lecture, hosted by the Police Foundation. In March 2014, he is expected to publish his first annual assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service in England and Wales, a new statutory requirement under the Police Act 1996 as it was amended by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. His assessment will be laid before Parliament, and is expected to be debated in both Houses of Parliament in due course.
Winsor has carried out substantial re-engineering of HMIC, increasing its focus on the service which the police provide to the public, and establishing more intensively evidence-based inspections. He has adopted a collegiate, co-operative regime of working with the other Inspectors of Constabulary, all of whom are independent royal appointments, and has established good working relations with many of the chief police officers of England and Wales, the newly elected police and crime commissioners, the Home Office and others in, or interested in, the criminal justice system.
On 19 December 2013, the Home Office announced its intention to increase HMIC's annual budget by £9.4 million so as to enable the Inspectorate to carry out annual, in-depth force inspections on core policing matters in every one of the 43 Home Office police forces in England and Wales, in addition to HMIC's programme of thematic inspections (28 such inspections are being carried out in the current inspection year). The design of the new inspection programme is being carried out in close consultation and co-operation with the police service, and will lead to an interim all-force assessment in November 2014, with the first full all-force inspection assessment in November 2015.
Winsor now leads the most significant reform and expansion of the role of HMIC in its 159-year history. In all of this, he is accompanied by the other Inspectors of Constabulary who are contributing in full measure to the design and implementation of the new inspection regime. The detailed design work is being led by HMI Stephen Otter.
Review of police officers' & staff pay and conditions
On 1 October 2010, the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, announced that Winsor was to carry out a review of police pay and conditions. The purpose stated was to improve service for the public and maximise value for money.
The review was given the job of making recommendations about the pay and conditions of the 43 established police forces in England and Wales. There had been a number of previous reviews into police officers pay and condition since Lord Edmund-Davies in 1978. The most high-profile had been that of Sir Patrick Sheehy in 1993
In carrying out the review, Winsor was supported by professional advice from former West Midlands Chief Constable Sir Edward Crew and Professor Richard Disney of the University of Nottingham, a leading labour-market economist.
The review was required to report to the Home Secretary in two parts: the first on short-term improvements to the police service in March 2011, and the second on matters of longer-term reform in March 2012.
The Home Office announcement of the review stated its three main objectives:
- use remuneration and conditions of service to maximise officer and staff deployment to front-line roles where their powers and skills are required;
- provide remuneration and conditions of service that are fair to and reasonable for both the taxpayer and police officers and staff; and
- enable modern management practices in line with practices elsewhere in the public sector and the wider economy.
The first part report was published by the Home Office on 8 March 2011. See: www.review.police.uk
Broadly, it recommended savings of £1.1 billion from the police pay bill over three years September 2011 - September 2014, with £485 million going to the taxpayer and £625 million being redirected to "front-line policing". The report suggested that the pay budget should be redistributed in such a way that some police officers would receive pay cuts whilst other officers would benefit. Front-line policing was defined as the officers doing the hardest and most dangerous duties and those who have and use the highest professional skills, in areas such as firearms, investigation (detectives), neighbourhood policing and public order.
The Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the Part 1 report and said that it hoped it would lay lasting foundations for the police service. The Police Federation said that it would oppose the proposals as an unprecedented attack on police pay and conditions. Media reaction to the review was mixed. The Police Federation of England and Wales commented on a number of process errors in the report and drew especial attention to the claim that a very high proportion of officers were obese. The researchers had taken their figures from a group of staff who were attending weight-loss classes.
The Part 1 proposals were referred by the Home Secretary to the statutory Police Negotiating Board for formal consideration. The PNB failed to agree on the proposals, and so they were referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal, which reported on 8 January 2012. The PAT supported most of the Part 1 recommendations, and deferred consideration on others pending the appearance of the Final Report (also known as Part 2 or Winsor 2). On 30 January 2012, the Home Secretary announced she would accept the PAT outcome on Part 1.
The Part 2 report, the Final Report of the review, was published on 15 March 2012. It contains recommendations of a much longer-term nature, including linking pay to performance rather than time-service, payment for the acquisition and use of accredited professional policing skills, the creation of a power akin to a right of police forces to make police officers redundant even if they have not yet attained full pensionable service, higher educational qualifications required of recruits, fast-track promotion to inspector rank for the most promising internal and external candidates, direct entry at superintendent rank for individuals of exceptional achievement in other sectors, compulsory fitness tests for all officers, a more rigorous regime applying to officers on restricted duties (i.e. those who are unable to fulfil all the requirements of a police officer), a new retirement age of 60 for police officers, and the replacement of the PNB and the PAT with a pay review body for police officers and the settlement of chief officers' pay by the Senior Salaries Review Body.
On 27 March 2012, the Home Secretary made a statement to Parliament in which she said that she would direct the PNB and the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales to consider as a matter of urgency the Part 2 proposals on pay, promotion and other matters within their remits. In relation to direct entry at higher ranks, she said: "I do not believe it is in the best interests of the service to restrict its ability to appoint officers to senior positions to a limited number of individuals. While police leaders have undoubted strengths, I want to ensure that the police service is able to draw upon the best pool of talent available. The Government believe that the review's recommendations on entry could support this and I will therefore conslt partners on them."
The Police Federation reacted adversely to the Part 2 report, telling the Home Secretary that its contents had placed Police Federation members in a state of "utter dismay, consternation and disillusion". It said that "what Winsor is suggesting goes far beyond reform and threatens to undermine the very foundations of British policing and the public we serve". It asked the Home Secretary to "reject Winsor Part 2 outright". On 10 May 2012 in London it held a special event to mark its opposition to the proposals. 32,000 officers attended and marched past the Home Office and the Houses of Parliament.
The official response from its chairman, Sergeant Paul McKeever, was "Today's announcement comes just days after we called upon the Home Secretary to reject the Winsor Part 2 report and demonstrates the contempt this government displays towards police officers. Previously Mrs May promised to always back us and to support us. These were clearly just hollow words; meaningless soundbites in her early months in office. Theresa May has forced the hand of police officers across England and Wales to call for a ballot on whether they want industrial rights. They no longer have any trust or faith in the Home Secretary or this government."
The Federation also announced that it would be seeking "full industrial rights" for police officers which would include the right to strike over pay and conditions.
The Association of Chief Police Officers was more positive in its reaction to the Part 2 report, although it acknowledged that it would take time to absorb its 780 pages. It said "Chief Officers have been clear that they want to move away from rank and length of service being the sole criteria for increased pay and take into the account the level of expertise staff have achieved and their contribution to meeting the public need. We have staff driven by a great sense of vocation and commitment to the public and it is crucial that their morale and motivation is maintained and that the police service can continue to attract the most able people. Chief Officers have been clear that we will need radical approaches to absorb the current and future budget cuts and maintain the protection of the public. At the same time we must not put in danger the core ethos of service and self-sacrifice in policing that has served this country well.”
The Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales said "This is a serious and significant report that has major and long-term implications for the Police Service, individual officers and staff and for the public we serve. At over 1,000 pages and containing 121 recommendations it is important to carefully analyse the Report before passing judgement on individual recommendations. ... This Report comes at a time when police officers and staff face real cuts in pay of £160 million as a result of the first part of Mr Winsor’s Review, a three-year pay freeze, increased pension contributions, a 20% cut in funding and the loss of 34,000 officers and staff which has led to a serious erosion of morale. It is important therefore to recognise that the publication of the final report marks the start of a detailed process involving all parts of the Service and the Government that will look at the long-term consequences, practicalities and cost involved. We now await the decision of the Home Secretary in respect of the recommendations and the time-scales for implementation and look forward to playing a full part in determining the future of policing.”
The PNB and the PAB duly considered the Part 2 recommendations. The most controversial of them were referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal, which reported its determination on 20 December 2013. The PAT rejected the proposal on compulsory severance for police officers with fewer than 30 years' service, and on 14 February 2014 the Home Secretary announced that she would accept the PAT decision and therefore would not proceed with it "at this time", leaving open the possibility that it will be needed and should be introduced in the future.
Winsor's proposals for the abolition of the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Arbitration Tribunal were accepted and were legislated for in the Anti-social Behaviour, Police and Crime Act 2014.
Rail Regulator 1999-2004
In July 1999, John Prescott MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and Deputy Prime Minister, appointed Winsor as Chris Bolt's successor as Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator.
On his appointment after the British general election in 1997, Prescott had declared that he was going to take a far tougher line with the privatised railway industry. Prescott had been fiercely opposed to the privatisation in 1996 and was one of the 'old Labour' stalwarts who wanted to renationalise the industry outright. Despite having said in opposition that its policy was a 'publicly owned, publicly accountable railway', New Labour would not promise renationalisation, even if it could have afforded it, and in its manifesto for the 1997 election committed itself to a policy of increased accountability of the privatised companies to the public interest through tougher and more effective regulation.
This was seen as an imaginative policy, since, if properly implemented, it could achieve virtually all of the government's objectives for a better performing, more efficient railway without the expense or controversy of renationalising the assets. At the Labour Party conference in September 1998, Prescott declared that he was going to carry out a 'spring clean of the regulators', which many commentators realised meant the appointment of a tougher, more interventionist replacement for Swift.
New regulatory approach
Winsor's five-year term as Rail Regulator began on 5 July 1999, and he immediately announced a new regulatory agenda, one which contemplated holding the privatised railway companies much more closely to account. It also involved radical changes to the regulatory and contractual matrix for the privatised industry, replacing enforcement regulation with incentives, and changing the financial, contractual and licensing environment in which the industry operated.
Winsor's ability to pursue his new regulatory agenda was significantly hampered by problems with Railtrack coming to a head very shortly after he took office. One of Winsor's principal motivations in applying for the post of Rail Regulator had been his frustration with - some critics elevated it to a visceral hatred of - Railtrack's incompetence and how it impeded so much progress in the privatised railway. He was also reported as being increasingly exasperated with the failure of his predecessor to hold Railtrack properly to account, and to use the powers of the office to apply pressure on the company and to reform - increase - the powers of the Rail Regulator to make regulatory and contractual accountabilities more effective.
Winsor was severely critical of what he found when he took over the office of the Rail Regulator, describing it as a dysfunctional organisation which was inward-looking and barely able to do the job it had been given by Parliament. Changing this quickly was, he said, all the more important because the ability of the train operators - Railtrack's direct customers - to apply pressure and secure fair terms and reasonable performance from the infrastructure operator was weak because their contracts were weak, with a poor specification of what they got for their money and uncertain and ineffective remedies for when things went wrong.
His reform agenda had three major planks:
§ changing the financial framework in which the infrastructure manager operated through the periodic review of its revenue requirements, changing the structure of access charges so as to introduce a higher degree of incentives; this led to his deciding (in October 2000) to increase Railtrack's income from £10 billion to £15 billion for the five-year control period 2001-2006
§ reforming Railtrack's network licence - its principal instrument of accountability to the public interest - by the introduction of nine new conditions covering matters such as its disposal of land, dealings with dependent users, the establishment of a reliable, comprehensive register of the capacity, condition and capability of its assets, its means of accounting and its stewardship of its assets (including the setting up of a system of regulatory reporters to assess the company's progress and competences in areas of network operation specified by the regulator)
§ completely rewriting the contracts at the track-train interface, replacing a contractual structure which set infrrastructure manager against its customers with a true, co-operative joint venture of mutual interest, recognising the intensity of the interdependence of the two parties; this was achieved by the establishment of a new model track access contract and major reforms to the industry-wide network code.
The reform to the financial structure was announced on 23 October 2000, only a few days after the Hatfield rail crash. The aftermath of Hatfield - what it revealed about the state of Railtrack's asset knowledge - led to the carrying out of a further financial review in 2002-2003, the conclusions of which were announced on 12 December 2003 and gave Network Rail (Railtrack's successor) an additional £7.4 billion.
In his five years in office, Winsor substantially reformed the regulatory, economic and contractual matrix for the railway industry leading to major improvements in railway performance, network integrity, industry development and working relationships, and passenger satisfaction. He corrected most of the greatest mistakes of rail privatisation, and against great opposition provided the railway with the matrix and the means (including a £22.2bn settlement) to work together rather than against one another, leading to far greater co-operative working and much higher levels of performance. He also set the benchmark for independent integrity in economic regulation admired around the world.
Problems with Railtrack
Winsor's main focus was the company which he regarded as performing most unsatisfactorily - Railtrack. He criticised it for 'policies of neglect of its assets and hostility to its customers', and in his first month in office took enforcement action against it in relation to its performance, imposing a financial penalty of £42 million if it failed to improve its performance towards passenger train operators by 12.7% in the operating year 1999-2000. Railtrack criticised the penalty as 'the largest fine in corporate history', which it was not. But it did represent a significant hardening of regulatory approach to the one which the company had enjoyed under the previous regulator.
Winsor's relationship with Railtrack was stormy. He saw it as his duty to hold the company more closely and vigorously to account, and criticised its many failures, including its poor knowledge of the condition, capacity and capability of its assets, rising numbers of broken rails and deteriorating track quality measures, its bad relationship with its train operator customers, its performance shortcomings, poor contracting and procurement strategies and the soaring costs of its projects (especially the renewal and upgrade of the West Coast main line). Instead of getting involved in eye-catching new projects such as taking over the London Underground and High Speed 1, Winsor believed that Railtrack should concentrate on the core job of operating, maintaining and renewing the national network.
Gerald Corbett, Railtrack's chief executive, led the management team, which resisted this new regulatory pressure. On 3 April 2000, under the headline 'Railtrack Declares War on Regulator', The Guardian newspaper reported that 'Railtrack is adopting a "culture of defiance" against the rail regulator', a stance which Winsor was reported as describing as an 'attitude which beggars belief'. However, the relationship between the two men was courteous and professional, even though Winsor was a severe critic of the philosophy and approach underlying Corbett's leadership of Railtrack. When Corbett offered his resignation after the Hatfield rail crash, the company's senior management tried to rally support for Corbett - to persuade him not to go - amongst the senior figures in the railway industry. Winsor is thought to have been the only senior figure who withheld support, although he did not do it publicly. Corbett's resignation was not accepted by Railtrack's board, but when a month later he offered his resignation a second time, it went through. Corbett was succeeded by Steve Marshall, the company's finance director.
Hatfield and its aftermath
Further enforcement action came in 2000 over Railtrack's inadequate work on the renewal and upgrade of the West Coast main line, but the watershed for the company - and the British railway industry - was on 17 October 2000 when a broken rail caused a high-speed train, travelling at 115 mph, to derail at Hatfield, north of London, killing four passengers and injuring many more. Gerald Corbett immediately offered his resignation, but his board refused it, and Corbett remained in office for a further month when he resigned again, this time having his offer accepted. Corbett was replaced as chief executive by the finance director, Steve Marshall.
Because Railtrack's asset knowledge had been so poor, the company did not know with sufficient certainty where else on its network the type of metal fatigue - called gauge corner cracking or rolling contact fatigue - could cause another accident. And so it imposed over 1200 emergency speed restrictions across the network, causing the effective disintegration of the integrity of the operational network for months. Winsor took further enforcement action against Railtrack, first to compel the production of a coherent recovery plan - something which the company had failed to do for six weeks after the crash - and then to ensure that the plan was carried out. Normal network operation was substantially achieved in May 2001.
In responding to the crash, Railtrack had carried out a highly inefficient programme of track renewal and replacement, costing hundreds of millions of pounds. Track was replaced without the ballast and sleepers underneath also being renewed, and some track had to be replaced a second time.
New financial settlement for Railtrack
On 23 October 2000, Winsor announced a new regulatory financial settlement of £14.8 billion for Railtrack for the five years 2001-2006, a 50% increase over the settlement for the previous regulatory control period, 1995-2001. This was the culmination of a regulatory review of the company's asset maintenance and management plans and the demands which passenger and freight train operators were likely to make of the network in the future. But the work was hampered by Railtrack's poor asset knowledge, and Winsor had been frustrated that the company's information - and that of the Office of the Rail Regulator in the past - was so unsatisfactory. The Hatfield crash and Railtrack's reaction to it showed immediately that the company's asset management plans for the future were inadequate and more work - and so more money - would be needed. The problem was no-one then knew how much. (It turned out to be an extra £7.4 billion.)
Railtrack had the right to appeal Winsor's decision on its financial settlement to the UK Competition Commission. It decided not to do so, principally because on 15 January 2001 Winsor made a public announcement committing to carry out an interim regulatory review of the company's financial position, with the potential - near certainty - that it would lead to a substantial increase in Railtrack's allowed revenues, to finance the substantially increased work programme which the Hatfield crash showed was necessary.
In order to alleviate its immediate financial pressures - the huge cost increases of the rerailing programme after Hatfield - on 1 April 2001, Railtrack agreed with the government an acceleration of part of Winsor's financial settlement, bringing forward into 2001 revenues which were not due to be paid to the company until 2006. Winsor endorsed the acceleration. In order to achieve favourable accounting treatment for the revenues, the government agreed that its franchising arm, the Strategic Rail Authority, would set up a 50:50 joint venture company, known as Renewco, and the accelerated revenues would be made available to Railtrack via that vehicle. The agreement was that Renewco would be set up by 30 June 2001; if not, Railtrack would have the right to apply to Winsor for an interim regulatory review.
New chairman - secret negotiations with government
In June 2001, Railtrack appointed a new chairman, John Robinson. It then embarked upon secret negotiations with the government, deliberately concealed from Winsor, who could and would have thwarted what was being proposed, for a generous financial bail-out. The Railtrack negotiating strategy involved the government agreeing to cost-plus financing of the company for several years and a four-year suspension of the economic regulatory regime. Many commentators have subsequently remarked that Railtrack was naive to think that the government would ever agree to such a thing, but Railtrack apparently thought so. During this time, Renewco was not set up, and Railtrack (and the Strategic Rail Authority, which was also in the dark about the negotiations) pressed the government to do so.
The government did not regard Railtrack's bailout proposals as their only option. In secret, they prepared for an alternative, the insolvency of Railtrack and, as a result, the company being put into railway administration, a special kind of corporate status which ensured continuity of network operations despite the financial condition of the operator.
Threat to independent regulation
On 5 October 2001, everything was ready. Transport Secretary Stephen Byers called Winsor to a meeting to explain that the government regarded Railtrack as insolvent and that a petition for railway administration in respect of Railtrack would be made to the High Court in London on 7 October 2001. Winsor expressed surprise that the company could be on the precipice of insolvency, having just had a 50% increase in its allowed revenues in his October 2000 regulatory review, and that the company would not have said anything about its precarious position to its economic regulator who had the power to advance potentially billions of pounds to it in additional revenues. Asked by Winsor whether the chairman of Railtrack knew all this, Byers replied that Robinson would be informed at a meeting immediately after Winsor's interview with the Secretary of State. Winsor told Byers that he would expect Railtrack, upon hearing this news, to immediately apply to him for the promised interim review. Byers replied that any such step would be met by the government introducing emergency legislation into Parliament to take the rail regulator under direct political control, to stop the review taking place. Winsor told Byers of the very severe adverse consequences such a step would involve, but Byers was unmoved. Ministers had made up their minds.
The next day, Saturday 6 October 2001, the board of Railtrack met to discuss what the government intended to do. In the early evening, they called Winsor and asked whether he would be prepared to carry out an interim review. Despite the threatened legislation to stop him, Winsor replied that he would be prepared to help. Although he explained to Railtrack that he could not complete an interim review over a single weekend, he said he would be prepared to make a public statement that he had started the process, and suggested to Railtrack that if they were to show that to the administration judge the next day, the administration order would probably not be made. But Railtrack rejected Winsor's willingness to intervene, and the company went into administration - unopposed - the next day, Sunday 7 October 2001.
Adverse City and industry reaction
Immediately after Railtrack went into administration (the same day the US and UK began the war in Afghanistan) there followed a period of very considerable public and City criticism of what the government had done, with allegations of renationalisation by the back door and great turbulence in investor confidence, as Winsor had warned. The government strongly asserted that it had been justified in reacting as it had to a "failed privatisation" and a railway in crisis, and said firmly that there would be no compensation for investors. Immediately plans were made by Railtrack shareholders to sue the government for what they saw as the unlawful confiscation of their property. Because at that time Winsor's role in the affair was not yet known, there were suggestions that he too would be a defendant for having (as was thought) colluded with the government in bringing down Railtrack. Winsor maintained media silence on the whole affair for a month, until 7 November 2001 when he gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. In that evidence, he explained what had happened and the threatened legislation to extinguish independent economic regulation of the railway industry. That evidence led to Stephen Byers being called to account for his actions in Parliament, since on 5 November 2001 he had denied to Parliament making any threats to Winsor. As a result of the controversy, Winsor was put under increasing political pressure, with the prime minister's official spokesman refusing to tell journalists whether the prime minister still had confidence in the rail regulator.
Winsor refused to resign, since, as he later explained, he had done nothing wrong. In the face of industry and financial markets pressure, the government withdrew their threatened legislation and instead announced that the regulatory regime for the railways would be reviewed. The independence and jurisdiction of the rail regulator was not altered during the remainder of Winsor's five-year term, although immediately afterwards - on 15 July 2004, the government announced a legislative intention to cut down the power of the rail regulator to advance additional money to Railtrack's successor - Network Rail - at future regulatory reviews.
The controversy of Railtrack's administration blazed on, and Byers' political problems intensified with other problems, including difficulties associated with the actions of his special adviser Jo Moore who had remarked to a colleague at the Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions that 11 September 2001 may be a good day to bury bad news, and the controversial and mishandled departure of his press spokesman Martin Sixsmith. Byers was subjected to relentless media and political attacks, and on 28 May 2002 he resigned. He never regained Ministerial office.
Byers' replacement as Secretary of State for Transport was Alistair Darling MP. It fell to Darling to get Railtrack out of administration, a process which was taking far longer than had first been supposed by Byers or senior civil servants at the Department for Transport.
Railtrack - how to end the administration
The government realised that ending Railtrack's administration required the High Court to be satisfied that the company was solvent. Darling needed Winsor to announce his willingness to carry out an interim review of the company's financial position, with the probability that he would allocate substantially greater sums to the company for the operation, maintenance and renewal of the network. To enable Winsor to make that decision, Darling knew that he needed to make a formal statement to Parliament to the effect that the government had reviewed the economic regulatory regime for the railways and was satisfied with it, and in particular that its independence was an essential cornerstone of the regime and of continuing private investor confidence in the railways. Darling made that statement on 12 June 2002, and Winsor announced his intention to carry out the interim review on 22 September 2002.
As a result, on 2 October 2002 the government was able to tell the High Court that Railtrack was not insolvent because the regulatory review had been promised and could lead to substantially more money for the company. The High Court was satisfied with that explanation and discharged the railway administration order on 2 October 2002. Railtrack was immediately acquired by Network Rail and renamed Network Rail Infrastructure Limited on 3 February 2003
£22.2 billion settlement
Winsor's interim regulatory review lasted until 12 December 2003, when he announced an additional £7.4 billion in funding, taking Network Rail's income for the five years 2004-2009 to £22.2 billion.
Winsor was severely criticised by some politicians - notable the House of Commons Transport Select Committee under the chairmanship of Gwyneth Dunwoody MP - for his power to increase public spending on the railways by such a large amount without Treasury approval. Winsor's reply was that that was his statutory remit and he would not be deterred by irrelevant political considerations in carrying it out.
Comments on communities 'born under other skies'
In 2014, Winsor noted that there were certain communities "born under other skies" which "preferred to police themselves". Windsor argued that such areas were not "no go zones" as such for police, but that in the absence of any contact between the persons who lived in such communities and British police, they simply "won't know what's going on".
End of term
Winsor left office on 4 July 2004, and returned to private practice in London as a partner in global law firm White & Case. His practice there has been divided equally between railway and regulatory work in the United Kingdom and in Europe, South East Asia and Africa.
On 5 July 2004, the government brought into force the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, which abolished the statutory position of Rail Regulator, and replaced the single-person regulator model with a nine-member corporate board called the Office of Rail Regulation. This change was made in line with the Labour government's policy of establishing regulatory boards to take the place of single regulators, and railways was the last but one of the principal economic regulators to be reformed in this way (the last being the regulatory authority for the water industry). Winsor later remarked that he was glad that for five years he had been able to do the work of nine people. In January 2007, the ORR board was enlarged to 11 members.
In the 2015 New Year honours list, it was announced that Winsor was to be knighted. His knighthood was conferred by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 19 March 2015.
Controversy and court
Winsor was a witness in the legal action, heard in the High Court in London in June and July 2005, brought by 49,500 private shareholders of Railtrack against the Secretary of State for Transport for misfeasance in public office. Not all aspects of the administration of Railtrack were aired in that case, and in the House of Commons on 24 October 2005, further criticism was levelled at the government concerning the circumstances in which Railtrack went into administration.
Those criticisms were made by shadow transport secretary Alan Duncan and Kenneth Clarke QC MP, and were defended by transport secretary Alistair Darling and Stephen Byers. Darling was later severely criticised for having that day tabled a motion in the House of Commons expressly congratulating the Government on the threats it had made to the independence and jurisdiction of the Rail Regulator in October 2001, despite Darling's own formal statements to Parliament between June 2002 and February 2004 that independent economic regulation of the railways was essential for the continuation of private investment in the industry, and effectively would and should be inviolate.
In 2006 two of Winsor's policies established whilst he was Rail Regulator - on the structure of network access charges (October 2000) and the conditions on which new passenger train operators without franchise contracts with the British government (called open access operators) are permitted to compete with companies which do (May 2004) - were challenged in the High Court in London. The case was a judicial review brought by Great North Eastern Railway Company Ltd against the Office of Rail Regulation. Two open access operators were joined in the case as interested third parties, one of which, Grand Central Railway Company Ltd, was a client of White & Case. Winsor therefore both represented his client and gave evidence in the case as a witness. The defence of the case was successful.
- "Tom Winsor picked as top candidate for senior police role". BBC News. 2012-06-08. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
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