London stadium enquiry

12 Feb

London Stadium 886749

At the Council meeting on 4th December, Sir Robin announced a review of the decisions that led to the “investment” of £40m into the former Olympic Stadium, which part-funded its transformation into a new home for West Ham United. The review would also cover the due diligence undertaken (or not) and advice provided to the Council.

Daniel Fenwick, Newham’s Director of Legal and Governance, has now written to councillors to announce the appointment of a senior QC to lead the enquiry:

The Mayor and Chief Executive instructed me as Director of Legal & Governance to lead on the review for the Council and I write to announce that I have appointed Peter Oldham QC to undertake the review of the Council’s decisions to invest in the former Olympic Stadium.  The decision to instruct a QC provides the Council with senior and independent scrutiny of the Council’s decision-making and an expert legal analysis of the decisions made.  It will also enable to obtain legal advice on any rights or remedies the Council may have in respect of the decisions made.  Mr Oldham is a leading QC on local authority matters and his details can be found here.

He will be assisted by Peter Lockley, a junior barrister at the same chambers and will, if required, have access to support from the Council through myself and external expert advisors, if he requires.

It is anticipated that Mr Oldham will complete his review by the middle of March for submission to the Mayor and members.  It is the Council’s intention to make as much of the report as possible publicly available but I will  need to consider whether any legal advice provided to the Council must be kept confidential to protect the Council’s interests at this time. If this situation arises, I will consider the ways in which such information may be shared with members whilst remaining confidential.

I am in the final stage of agreeing the Terms of Reference with Mr Oldham and will circulate these as soon as they agreed and they will also be a public document.

The draft terms of reference, which are due to be finalised today (12 Feb), outline the purpose of the enquiry:

…to produce a report for submission to the Mayor and members, addressing the following issues:

4.1.1.  A narrative of the Council’s Decisions (and related activity) to invest in the Stadium;
4.1.2.  A review of the Council’s rationale for the Decisions and whether or not the Decisions were reasonable to make in all the circumstances, including:

(a) the financial and operational projections that underpinned Newham’s original investment;

(b) the due diligence conducted by and on behalf of the Council and Newham Legacy Investments during the time period stated and whether or not any liability to the Council may arise;

(c) To identify further steps to be taken with regard to any matters identified at b. 

4.1.3. To identify any lessons that the Council can learn for future investments and decisions and what further steps the Council may take.

Although this is not a public enquiry, and the expectation is that meetings and interviews will take place privately, it appears Mr Oldham has the option to decide otherwise.

Included within the scope is the original decision to invest £40m in a joint venture with West Ham, which was aborted when Boris Johnson cancelled the procurement. Newham could have walked away at that point, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, turns up to explain Sir Robin’s utter determination to throw £40m at the stadium come what may.

The final report is due to be delivered on 23 March and, as Mr Fenwick says, the intention is to make it public. However, this is Newham, so I expect that as many FOI exemptions as possible will be applied to prevent anything seriously embarrassing from being revealed. 

2 Responses to “London stadium enquiry”

  1. urriti February 12, 2018 at 14:44 #

    ‘to produce a report for submission to the Mayor and members, etc’.

    Do the 340,000 people who live here and will be paying off the loan, get a look in?

    • Martin Warne February 12, 2018 at 14:46 #

      We’ll get to see the report – or at least as much of it as they’re prepared to make public.

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