Hunt cannot be our ‘fair play’ Olympic minister
In exactly three months from today, London (with the support of the rest of Britain) will welcome and host the 2012 Olympic Games. Many are excited by this prospect, while some are simply indifferent. But what I’m sure we can all agree on is that the Games represents a once in a life time opportunity for our country to show the world the very best qualities we have to offer (both on and off the field) – qualities such as creativity, vision, skill and fair play.
It is perhaps the last quality mentioned (‘fair play’) that Britain is particularly well known for in the world. But unfortunately, I fear it is also the quality we most run the risk of undermining while the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, remains in his position in the run up to the coming Games.
With this week’s allegations regarding favouritism and inappropriate dealings from staff within Hunt’s office at the DCMS, how can the government even contemplate keeping him in his post to oversee the arrival and delivery of the Olympic Games? Hunt claims he has not acted inappropriately himself, but - in my opinion, and in understanding the close relationship between ministers and advisers - it is inconceivable that he knew nothing of this activity. The whole scenario does not project Britain’s spirit of fair play to a watching world in a positive light.
Britain has staked billions of pounds on the opportunity to host the Olympics. And, at a time of biting austerity and a failing economy, those of us who are supporting the Games must do all we can to capitalise on them for the good of the country.
The government is integral to the success of the Games, and they too must do all they can to ensure Britain converts its opportunity. Further, they must realise that this week’s allegations relating to favouritism - that concern the very minister responsible for delivering the Olympics - do not reflect the London Games’ principle aim of becoming the ‘most accessible and participatory’.
Hunt has asked to be given the opportunity to clarify his actions regarding the Sky takeover to the Leveson Inquiry. With the biggest cultural event in our nation’s history about to open in three months time, I would ask: should Cameron wait for Lord Leveson’s report before deciding on Hunt’s fate?
Fadel Takrouri is a businessman and community activist.