Millennium celebrations chief sacked

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The Independent Online
THE MAN appointed chief executive of the Millennium Commission, with responsibility for allocating pounds 1.6bn on projects to mark the end of the century, has been sacked in a clash of personalities.

Nicholas Hinton, the respected and forceful director-general of the Save the Children Fund, was due to start on Monday. But he was called in last Monday by Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for National Heritage, who was flanked by a commissioner, Michael Montague, and told of his dismissal.

Commissioners said last night that in the months since Mr Hinton, 52, had been appointed they had come to realise they would not be able to work together. But Mr Hinton called his 'summary dismissal' surprising since he had been head-hunted from the charity only last July and no attempt had been made to solve the perceived difficulties.

Mr Montague said the announcement of the sacking had been withheld for five days - in the week of the Tory conference - at the request of Mr Hinton, an assertion denied by Mr Hinton.

Both sides last night agreed, however, the problems centred on differing view of the roles and responsibilties of the nine commissioners and of the chief executive, rather than any disagreement over how the money should be spent. The commission has been given a wide brief by the Government to decide what projects marking the millennium to back.

'It was nothing to do with projects or policy,' Mr Montague said. 'He just felt we were being too intrusive and we should adopt a hands-off approach. But we have been touring the country talking to many people and have a great interest in projects and proposals.'

Battle for power, page 2