Government abandons bid for rescue helicopter

Portsmouth coastguard called to reports of a body near Chichester

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PLANS to privatise the south’s search and rescue helicopter have been dropped after ‘irregularities’ in the bidding process.

The government planned to privatise the entire UK fleet of rescue helicopters, including the one based in Lee-on-the-Solent.

But the preferred bidder, Soteria, has admitted it had access to commercially- sensitive information during the procurement process. Police are investigating how the information made its way to the bidder.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, yesterday announced the government would not proceed with the plans as a result.

A spokesman for Soteria said the company was ‘disappointed’ at the decision to cancel the project.