The new chair of Sport England?
Sadly not. The 11-time Paralympic gold-medallist has been overlooked for the job amid claims that her appointment – which had been recommended by the interview panel – would have been “too political”. Baroness Grey-Thompson, a crossbench peer, has been highly critical of the Government’s disability policy and warned that changes to the Disability Living Allowance could see disabled people “ghettoised and excluded from society”. Emily Thornberry, shadow Attorney General, said she feared that Baroness Grey-Thompson may have been the victim of a “political stitch-up”.
Who bagged the role?
Nick Bitel, who has been chief executive of the London Marathon since 1995. He replaces Richard Lewis as the man who will decide how to split the quango’s £300m annual budget. Baroness Grey-Thompson had originally acted as Nick Bitel’s referee for the position. It is thought he was chosen because of his proven commercial competencies. Sports minister Hugh Robertson said that there had been a strong field of applications for the position and it was important to get “the very best people in place”, adding: “Nick Bitel has run the most successful mass participation sports event in this country for almost 20 years.”
How did Baroness Grey-Thompson react?
She was typically dignified. She sent her congratulations to Nick and said she would redouble her efforts to secure the “grass-roots legacy” of the Olympics. “I do, of course, respect the Government’s decision, and having worked with Nick Bitel on the Board of the London Marathon and LLDC [London Legacy Development Corporation] I have no doubt that he will do a fantastic job,” she said. “I will continue to give my backing to whichever measures I believe are for the good of sport and wider society in the UK.”