More legal action over the Olympic Stadium
Published 12 July 2011 By: Andrew Nixon
Following the announcement last week that Tottenham Hotspur intend to continue to argue the club's entitlement to bring a claim for judicial review, it appears that the club may face legal action in respect of allegations the bid process may have been tainted because an Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) employee had worked for West Ham.
The employee in question has been suspended on full pay whilst an investigation is launched into any possible conflict of interest. West Ham has stated that it had already carried out its own investigation into the employee's role with the club and has now indicated its intention to take action against both Spurs and the Sunday Times newspaper in respect of the allegations. Comment
Inevitably, Spurs may seek to reference the alleged conflict of interest as they continue to seek a judicial review remedy. An initial application was rejected last week by Mr Justice Davies; however, Spurs are expected to make further submissions at an oral hearing towards the end of July.
As the Sport Lawyer commented in edition 33, the bid process, and any impropriety during that process, will be crucial when it comes to determining whether or not the decision should be reviewed. The board voted 14-0 in favour of West Ham's bid, and the OPLC has stated that the employee had no involvement in the decision making process. West Ham will itself point to a transparent tender process for the work carried out by the employee for the club (relating to the procurement process for the stadium construction process). Therefore, any judicial review claim could be countered with an argument that the commercial connection between West Ham and the employee had no bearing on the decision and indeed on the basis that the employee had no access to bid documentation or board members. The strength of those counter arguments will ultimately depend on what the investigation reveals, but crucially, in the immediate term at least, it will could strengthen Spurs' position at the hearing later this month.
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Andrew Nixon is a Partner in the Sport Group at Sheridans. Referred to in this year's Legal 500 as a “very bright and talented sports lawyer” Andrew's practice focuses principally on regulatory, governance, disciplinary, arbitration and dispute resolution within the sport sector. Andrew's clients include governing bodies, sports clubs, sports agencies and individual athletes.