PracticePeople In PracticeSmith issued order to bail out Dome

Smith issued order to bail out Dome

Culture secretary Chris Smith and eight members of the Millennium Commission ordered a senior civil servant to pay £76m to keep the Millennium Dome afloat after he had told them it was a waste of public money.

The revelation was made in the Guardian at the weekend and is based on the National Audit Office inquiry into the controversial project. The NAO told AccountancyAge.com it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment on its forthcoming report.

With the Commons Public Accounts Committee set to quiz civil servants about the report on 20 November, the NAO is expected to issue its findings in the first week of November.

According to the Guardian, the damning report will say that Smith has twice had to issue a ministerial direction order forcing Commission director Mike O’Connor to hand out cash to the ‘near bankrupt’ attraction.

The first order was made last May when Smith, in his capacity as commission chairman, ordered £29m to be given to keep the Dome going. The second undisclosed order for another £47m was made last month after O’Connor made a second objection to spending the cash on the dome, the paper said.

The draft report, according to the Guardian, reveals that Smith received unanimous support from his fellow commissioners to demand the money after they had examined whether to close down the Dome.

But they were told that millions of pounds of more cash would be needed to compensate donors, pay out redundancy to staff and meet creditors’ bills, the report said.

Dome FD Spence resigns

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