Investigation into £160m overspend forces LDA chief executive to admit employee lacked formal qualification

The accountant ultimately responsible for the London Development Agency's Olympic budget was unqualified, it emerged today.

The news was admitted by the chair and chief executive of the LDA, during a grilling from London Assembly members over the £160m overspend in the LDA Olympic budget.

Harvey McGrath, chair of the LDA and Sir Peter Rogers, chief executive of the LDA faced questions over how the Agency had allowed an extra spend of nearly £160m on costs without anyone noticing.

Members from the London Assembly Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism committee demanded to know why the agency's accountants had failed to spot the overspend.

The LDA admitted of the two accountants employed to check the accounts, only one was formally qualified. This one reportedly looked after “day-to-day” accounts, the LDA said, while the £1.1bn Olympic budget was ultimately governed by an unqualified accountant.

The LDA also confessed a series of programmes it had been hoping to fund, would now face severe cuts.

This included funding for the Visit London tourist programme, which the LDA said would be cut by £4m this year. The London Pavilion due to be built in Shanghai, will also now no longer be possible, the LDA said.