ODA chief exec Dennis Hone and legacy bosses reportedly at loggerheads with Olympics minister at Mipim
Olympic officials appear to be at loggerheads with ministers after reportedly encouraging 2012 construction firms at Mipim to ignore strict rules on marketing their achievements.
At two separate events at Mipim on Wednesday, witnesses said that Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chair Margaret Ford, chief executive Andrew Altman and ODA chief executive Dennis Hone, all strongly questioned the so-called Olympic marketing rights protocol.
Construction firms have argued the protocol is a rigid interpretation of International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules and is preventing them taking ‘due credit’ for the achievement of the 2012 Olympic build and boosting the economy as a result.
Building revealed in January that prime minister David Cameron had asked Olympics minister Hugh Robertson to investigate the complaints.
Leanne Tritton, the managing director of architectural PR firm ING Media – many of whose clients have been hit by the protocol - was at the Olympic legacy meeting on Wednesday morning.
“Dennis gave a presentation on everything that has been done on the Olympics and said how wonderful it was,” she told Building. “I’m paraphrasing but he said the real heroes of the Olympic build are those British firms that worked on it and said ‘we want them to go out and capitalise on this’.
“I asked about the Olympic marketing protocol and was surprised at how forthright they were. Dennis said his personal view was just to ignore it and Margaret weighed in and also said ‘go for it’. She actually said ‘ask forgiveness not permission’.”
New London Architecture boss Peter Murray - who first called for a relaxation of the protocol in January – said Altman had described the rules as “madness” at a later Olympic event on Wednesday.
Both the ODA and Margaret Ford moved to distance themselves from the reported comments after they became a talking point on Twitter and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson became embroiled in the row.
Robertson told Building’s sister title Building Design yesterday that firms could be prosecuted if they flouted the protocol.
He told BD: “When people signed the contracts they knew what they were letting themselves in for. These aren’t bloody-minded rules. I can understand the frustration but it won’t last forever.
He also suggested the row was not genunine.
“They should have made more of a fuss two years ago … It’s a classic case of a bandwagon gaining momentum.”
Ford backtracked on her earlier remarks, telling another publication: “I know it is frustrating but there is a protocol in place.”
An ODA spokesman said: “We don’t recognise some of the language as reported … we are certainly not encouraging companies to break contractual agreements that they have signed up to.
“But what’s undeniably true is that we are keen that British companies do get the credit for their critical role in building the venues and infrastructure for the London Games.
“That’s why our chairman, Sir John Armitt, is currently preparing a report on how British companies can benefit from their role in London 2012 by winning new contracts at home and abroad in the years ahead.”
A spokesperson for the OPLC said: “These comments as reported are taken out of context. The Olympic Park Legacy Company does not advocate breaking any 2012 marketing restrictions and nor did we endorse that position at Mipim.
“We did say that UK plc should be celebrating the construction of the Olympic Park as a fantastic testament to all who worked on it. We agree that UK companies should use this achievement to market their abilities to the rest of the world in years to come.”