Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from Sir Rodney Walker (former Chairman of WNSL)
I have become aware that there is to be a Select
Committee meeting on Tuesday to which Tropus Ltd will be invited.
I understand that the purpose of the meeting will be to review
their report in order to assess the appropriateness of Wembley
as a government-sponsored project.
As the Chairman of Wembley National Stadium
from December 2000 until recently I feel compelled to write to
you on the matter. Ideally, if it was possible, I would have liked
to have attended the Select Committee meeting to represent WNSL,
however I am overseas and therefore this not an option.
Tropus approached me in June 2001 to talk to
me about misgivings that they had about the management of the
Wembley project. This was just after the contract with Tropus
was terminated at the time when all of the consultants that we
were using at the time were "laid off". This was just
as we were entering the period when, with the Government, we reviewed
all of our options regarding the National Stadium and we had to
minimise our running costs until we were clear as to the way forward.
The allegations made by Tropus were sufficiently
serious that I asked them to put them in writing so that they
could be properly considered by the WNSL Board. This report was
received on August 1.
The WNSL Board quickly assessed that there needed
to be a full investigation and initiated a search for an independent
person to carry this out. After consultation and careful consideration
Mr David James was appointed. He recommended the use of Berwin
Leighton Paisner, a law firm that he had worked with previously.
The allegations made by Tropus largely fell
into three areas, they related to the process used to procure
the construction contract, aspects of corporate governance and
issues of management style. Mr James investigated those issues
which were felt to be most significant. His report is thorough
and indeed, does identify some deficiencies. The Wembley team
have been quick to implement Mr James' recommendations and I am
confident that the company is now ready to tackle the project.
This has been borne out by the various reviews that have subsequently
declared that the project is well managed, viable and should proceed
to contract stage (Office of Government Commerce March 2002).
I wished to inform you that I took personal
charge of the investigations and I am satisfied that the substantive
issues in their reports were fully investigated. It seemed from
subsequent discussions with Tropus that in their opinion the project
was never as well run as when they themselves were in sole charge
of the Construction department, prior to the appointment of the
Construction Director. Many of their comments about management
style and processes amounted to merely differences in management
style and are in my opinion of little or no relevance.
It is interesting that they did not approach
me until after their contract had been terminated, not maliciously
but as a natural consequence of the position that the project
was in at the time. Given the nature of these issues it has, of
course, not been possible to re-appoint them once the project
Many of the allegations and subsequent comments
from Tropus management seem to relate to a personal issue that
they have with one particular WNSL employee. I am particularly
concerned that this individual has never been given the chance
to defend the allegations other than those that were fully investigated
I trust that you will receive my comments in
the spirit in which they are intended, from someone who has been
careful to ensure that the correct procedures have been followed
since December 2000 and that the project is now in the best position
possible to achieve a successful conclusion.
17 May 2002