Tottenham have been accused of spying on London Olympic officials in the latest twist to the saga surrounding the main stadium for next year’s Games.
A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud after Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chairwoman Baroness Ford said the north London football club had private investigators tail all 14 members of her board.
With the future of the STG500 ($A780m) showpiece venue up in the air following the collapse of the West Ham deal, the suspect was questioned on Tuesday as officers conducted searches in London, including Westminster, and southern England.
Baroness Ford is in charge of the OPLC – the body formed to secure the Olympic Park’s legacy.
‘The thing that I have learned in the last 12 months is that there has been all kinds of behaviour,’ she told the London Assembly.
‘There has been legal challenges and people have stood behind it anonymously – all kinds of things have happened.
‘My board were put under surveillance by Tottenham Hotspur and the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur felt confident enough to say in the Sunday Times several months ago that all 14 members of my board were put under surveillance.
‘The Metropolitan police are now conducting an investigation into that surveillance.’
Tottenham rejected the accusations and put out a statement through their lawyers.
‘The club did not undertake, instruct or engage any party to conduct surveillance on any member of the OPLC Committee and we consider the making of this baseless accusation to be wholly inappropriate and irresponsible,’ it said.
‘We totally reject the accusation in the strongest possible terms.’
The tender process for the showpiece venue has been dogged by controversy from the outset.
After months of bitter fighting between Tottenham and West Ham for control of the 80,000-seat stadium, the Hammers won the rights to the venue earlier this year.
However that deal folded last month because of a fear that legal battles could drag on for years and turn the stadium into a white elephant.
Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient argued Newham Council’s STG40m grant to assist West Ham secure the venue constituted unfair state aid.
A new tender process was launched and the stadium, with a permanent athletics track, will remain in public hands and rented out.
The OPLC and West Ham’s reputations took a hit when it was revealed that Dionne Knight, the OPLC’s director of corporate services, was paid by the club as a freelance consultant during its successful bid.
The OPLC said it was unaware of the activity with payments to Ms Knight authorised by her boyfriend Ian Tompkins, who helped mastermind West Ham’s successful bid.
Baroness Ford said her job was to find a tenant and reduce the avenues for legal appeals.
‘Our job now is to narrow as far as we possibly can the scope now for legitimate legal challenge in this next process – that is all that we can do,’ she said.
‘If people want then to be vexatious, frivolous and vindictive or whatever they want – they will do that.’
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