An appeal against the decision to release full details of West Ham’s Olympic Stadium deal with the LLDC is due to be heard in London on Monday. The London Legacy Development Corporation, have reported spent about £17,000 fighting a freedom of information ruling that the contract should be made public. The LLDC argues the deal contains commercially sensitive information.
Monday’s independent tribunal hearing is open to the public, although it is likely to be several weeks before a decision is announced. Giving evidence to the assembly’s budget and performance committee, LLDC board chairman David Edmonds said that: “The LLDC has spent £4,000 to date on legal fees on its appeal after the Information Commissioner (ICO) ordered the whole deal should be made public. These legal costs are expected to rise this month to £17,000.”
A coalition of 14 supporters’ trusts & groups has accused the LLDC of “running scared of the taxpayer”, after the publicly owned corporation decided to appeal against the judgement of the Information Commissioner, which had ordered publication last year.
The coalition which has been backed by a number of GLA members, former Government ministers, MPs and others, has been seeking the contract’s full publication of the agreement.
A spokesperson for the fan coalition said, “We have always respected West Ham United’s absolute right as a privately owned business to negotiate the most favourable commercial terms. However it is quite another matter for the LLDC, as a publicly owned corporation, answerable to the GLA, Government and ultimately responsible to the taxpayer, and charged with the oversight of public assets, to seek to block the publication of information about the use of those assets. The public have the right to know. Fans have a right to know. The LLDC is running scared of the taxpayer.”
The coalition says it is confident of winning the Tribunal hearing on Monday. “The Information Commissioner applies a three stage test to determine whether a request for information should be denied. The LLDC, represented by its battery of expensive lawyers paid for by the taxpayer, failed at Stage 2. We have a range of arguments ready for a tribunal, and we will exercise our right to an oral hearing, and for public access to the hearing. Eventually we will establish the full facts of the case. This cover-up will not continue indefinitely.”