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The Olympics


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Sunday, 3 December 2006

Radiation Hazard At Olympic Site

Jack Lemley the ex head of the building programme for the London Olympics, who quit over budget issues, has ridiculed the Government's preparations for the 2012 Games.

Mr Lemley claims that Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and London Mayor Ken Livingstone repeatedly ignored his warnings that the budget for the event was spiralling out of control.

He also claims that his warnings over the chemical contamination of the Olympic sites were dismissed, because "all they wanted to hear was good news".

It is reported that Mr Lemley was forced to resign after he sent Tessa Jowell a letter warning that the construction of the Olympic sites faced such serious delays, that the Games might have to be scaled down.

Mr Lemley claims that:
  • He told the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and Tessa Jowell before he was hired that there was a serious contamination problem at site chosen for the Games.

  • His warnings that the budget seriously under-estimated clean-up costs were ignored.

  • His agency was pressured to hide huge sums that should have been added to the budget.

  • The Government knew back in May that the Olympics faced an extra £1BN VAT bill, but hid the fact from the public.
Mr Lemley said he first saw a copy of a report by accountants KPMG in April/May:

"It said all the management costs were underestimated dramatically, by several hundred per cent. These numbers have been known for months by everybody and if Tessa Jowell hasn't told the Prime Minister, she wasn't doing her job. It's a swamp. There is misrepresentation of the situation."

On the subject of contamination Mr Lemley was equally outspoken:

"A blind man could see there was a huge environmental problem. I thought it was highly likely they underestimated. I talked to Tessa Jowell's senior people, Jeff Jacobs and his assistant, almost on a daily basis about this."

The question that we should be asking of our "respected" and "competent" government is why did they choose a site contaminated with scrapyards and hazardous waste from factories which produced items such as; soap, matches, ink, dyes, paraffin, rubber, creosote, fertiliser and varnish.

Seemingly there is even a radiation issue, plus a few unexploded bombs!


"They now know there are drums of radioactive material buried at the site and they never had that in their estimates.

In the spring, I learned it was highly likely there was unexploded Second World War ordnance in the ground and I said: 'I'm not going to put a pile-driving crew out there with unexploded bombs.' I wanted trenches dug so people could understand what was going to have to be done to clean the ground up and then the contractors could price it

Mr Lemley found that his views were not welcome:

"At Olympic Board meetings, I was never invited to speak. Tessa attended with Ken Livingstone and Seb Coe and British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan. All they got was good news."

As I keep saying, politicians should never be entrusted with major projects. They are unskilled, inept, incompetent and venal; they are of little use to man nor beast.

On October 9 he sent a letter, repeating his concerns, to Jowell and copied it to Livingstone and Lord Coe.

Jowell refused to discuss its contents, and ordered him to resign.

The public, and the IOC, have been seriously misled by Labour over these increasingly expensive Games. Unfortunately it will be the public who carry the can for them, rather than the politicians who got us into this mess.

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