London 2012 Olympics Stadium row 'must not delay plans'

An artist's impression of the Olympic Stadium
Image caption West Ham plan to convert the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium stadium to a 60,000 seater

The suspension of an Olympic Park Legacy Company director should not delay plans for the stadium, said Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales.

The female director was suspended on full pay on Friday after it was discovered she had been doing paid consultancy work for West Ham United.

Newham, an east London Olympic borough, won a joint bid with West Ham to use the £486m stadium after the Games.

The OLPC and West Ham said the woman had no involvement in the decision.

The OLPC board voted 14-0 in February to back the bid, over Tottenham Hotspur, as first choice to move into the stadium.

Sir Robin said: "The sooner we can get on with it the better. Anything that delays it is not good for our country.

"It is a seriously hugely popular bid. Everybody thought it was the best - let's just get on with it. We are very keen to get started.


"Our bid is the best. It works in every possible way. We will retain the stadium so we can use it nationally and regionally. Our community will benefit enormously from it.

"Any rational person will say 'it is a no-brainer, this is by far the best bid - let's get on with it'."

The director, who was later named as Dionne Knight, had declared "a personal relationship" with a Hammers employee when she started at the OPLC, but told the legacy company of her work at the club only last week.

She was immediately suspended while any possible conflict of interest was investigated, the OPLC said.

West Ham United have said they are taking legal action against Tottenham Hotspur and The Sunday Times over allegations about the Olympic Stadium bidding process.

'Absolute tragedy'

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "There is no reason why there should be any deviation. The woman concerned made her relationship known to the OPLC and was immediately excluded from having anything to do with the bid process.

"Obviously they took steps, quite rightly, to exclude her of any involvement with the bid process and it now transpires there was a financial relationship - that is a matter that is currently under investigation."

Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Olympics spokesman, said: "While the full details are not yet fully known it will be an absolute tragedy if the actions of two people place the future financial viability of the Olympic Stadium at risk.

"If as a result of their actions the future of the stadium is put on hold it is taxpayers who will end up footing the bill."

In a joint bid with Newham Council, West Ham plan to retain the running track after moving into the stadium and create a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use.

They intend to convert the 80,000-seater stadium into a facility which retains an athletics track. The club plans to move from Upton Park in 2014/15.

Newham Council has arranged £40m to convert the stadium after 2012.

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