MPs not told of Dome directors' guarantee

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Indy Politics

The Government faced renewed criticism over the Millennium Dome yesterday as a report said it was "unacceptable" that MPs were not told that the Dome's directors were given a guarantee against personal losses at the height of the affair.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said Parliament should have been informed that directors of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) were given government indemnity against losses as the Dome's finances deteriorated. A report said the decision opened up the possibility that taxpayers' money might have been needed to bail out the Lottery-funded attraction.

Edward Leigh, chairman of PAC, said: "This lack of transparency is wholly unacceptable and must not be repeated." The committee's report, published today, catalogued a series of failings in the planning, operation and finances of the Dome. It warned that the organisation was "elaborate and complex and gave rise to confusion and disagreement among the parties involved as to exactly who was responsible for what".

NMEC directors asked to be given indemnity from losses in May 2000 amid fears of legal action from the Dome's creditors. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport gave the guarantee, but did not report it to Parliament, believing the Dome was covered by a blanket indemnity against loss given to directors of Government quangos.

But the report said: "In our view, the indemnity was outside the normal course of business and exposed the public purse to expenditure of such a nature and size that Parliament should have been notified."