Criminal inquiry launched into P&O Ferries following mass sackings

Criminal and civil investigations into the actions of P&O Ferries have been launched, it has been confirmed, after almost 800 staff were sacked without notice.

The Insolvency Service have initiated “both formal criminal and civil” investigations, according to a letter sent to the Business Secretary this afternoon from the Inspector General of the Insolvency Service.

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs he had written to the organisation confirming his “firm belief” that P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite is “unfit to lead a British company”.

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In a letter to Mr Kwarteng, Inspector General and Chief Executive of the Insolvency Service Dean Beale said: “I can confirm that the Insolvency Service has initiated both formal criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent redundancies made by P&O Ferries.”

Two P&O ferries remain in the Port of Dover, Kent (PA)

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Sharing the note on Twitter, Mr Kwarting said that he and Mr Shapps “will continue to follow this matter closely as the investigations progress”.

On Wednesday, Mr Shapps told the House of Commons: “I have made no secret of my view that P&O Ferries’ boss Peter Hebblethwaite should resign. He set out to break the law and boasted about it to this Parliament.

"So I’ve written to the CEO of the Insolvency Service, conveying my firm belief that Peter Hebblethwaite is unfit to lead a British company. And I have asked them to consider his disqualification.

“The Insolvency Service has the legal powers to pursue complaints where a company has engaged in, and I quote, so-called sharp practice.

“Surely, the whole House agrees that nothing could be sharper than dismissing 800 staff and deliberately breaking the law whilst doing so.”