‘Chaos’ cost Dome FD his bonus

Neil Spence, accounting officer for the Dome until September 2000, could have been entitled to a large bonus if the attraction had met its success criteria.But when other former directors were paid a bonus, Spence received nothing.

The revelation came as the parliamentary public accounts committee heard evidence from David James, the company doctor brought in to rescue the failing millennium attraction.

With great frankness, James painted a picture of an over-stretched finance and legal department that was unable to cope with the number of contracts involved in the project, many of which had been awarded after a single tender.

When quizzed by Labour MP Alan Williams about action taken against those responsible, James admitted Spence, the accounting officer at the time, had not received a bonus, despite limited bonuses being given to other former directors including the chief executive Jennie Page.

Answering questions on Spence’s failure to alert directors of the New Millennium Experience Company, operator of the Dome, about weaknesses in financial management at the attraction, James said: ‘He performed a heroic exercise but should have shouted louder.’

The PAC was discussing the National Audit Office’s latest report on the winding-up of NMEC, which revealed poor or ineffective compliance with internal controls, especially on work awarded without a competitive tendering process.

The report said more than 1,350 contracts needed to be reviewed before the company could be wound up, but James said the figure was closer to 2,400 after sub-contractors had been taken into account.

The NAO investigation said the task of reviewing the contracts had been complicated by the absence of adequate records and had taken more than 12 months to complete.

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