Tessa Jowell's department dismisses former ODA boss' comments about Olympics as rewriting history

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has hit back at claims from former ODA chairman Jack Lemley that the government repeatedly ignored his warnings that the cost of the Olympics was spiralling out of control.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Lemley claimed that Tessa Jowell and Ken Livingstone repeatedly ignored his warnings that that the budget for the Olympics had been grossly underestimated. He claimed:

  • His fears over the chemical contamination of the sites were dismissed and the cost of clean-up ignored
  • The ODA was pressured to hide huge sums that should have been added to the Olympics budget
  • The government knew the Olympics faced an extra £1m VAT bill in May after receiving a report from consultants KPMG, but failed to disclose this to the public.
However, in a statement released today, the DCMS said: “Mr Lemley is trying to rewrite history on an epic scale. It is categorically untrue that Mr Lemley tried to raise issues and was ignored.”

The Guardian reports today that Lemley, who resigned from the board in October, jumped because he was about to be pushed.

The paper claims it is likely he was due to be sacked at a meeting with Olympics minister Tessa Jowell in October if he had not agreed to resign and take a severance package of double the amount he was legally due.

The paper reports he was given about £400,000 gross - including the tax due on a payoff that gave him £150,000 net. This is double the three months pay off of £75,000 he was entitled to expect.