WhoDomeit? The notes, a leak and one angry PM

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Indy Politics

Downing Street began an investigation yesterday after leaked documents pointed the finger of blame for the Millennium Dome fiasco at Tony Blair.

Downing Street began an investigation yesterday after leaked documents pointed the finger of blame for the Millennium Dome fiasco at Tony Blair.

The government papers show that the Prime Minister was opposed by no fewer than 12 cabinet ministers when he decided the Government should go ahead with the project.

Speculation was growing last night that a computer hacker could have obtained a top secret note of the Cabinet's discussion on the subject in June 1997. The note would have been seen by only a few senior civil servants and was not shown to ministers.

The theory was boosted by the fact that details of another cabinet meeting, in July 1997, were obtained by The Mail on Sunday less than two months ago.

Although the diaries of Lord Richard, who at the time was Leader of the House of Lords, had already revealed the Cabinet was split over the issue, the leak could still prove damaging. The document gave details of ministers' objections to the project, which hung in the balance at the time.

Tony Blair opened the meeting on 19 June 1997, spelt out his support for the Dome and then left for a memorial service, the documents disclosed.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, then took the chair and argued for approval from his colleagues, but met widespread dissent.

Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, said the scheme would be "a political disaster". Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, was reported as saying: "If anything goes wrong, it will all come back to us."

The shadow Culture Secretary, Peter Ainsworth, claimed the documents showed why Lord Falconer, the Dome Minister, was "not being allowed" to resign, after last week's damning report on the management of the Dome from the government spending watchdog, the National Audit Office.

He said: "Lord Falconer is terribly important to Tony Blair because if he goes, then Tony is in the firing line."

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