London Olympics exceed initial budget by £6.52bn

When is "under budget" not "under budget"?

BBC News, 1 February 2007:

How much will the Olympics really cost?

The overall budget for the London Olympics submitted in the bid to the International Olympic Committee was £2.4bn.

The figure came from a study carried out by construction company Arup in May 2002. It predicted the cost of the Games to be £1.8 billion.

The government then commissioned another report in 2004 carried out by accountants PriceWaterhouseCooper, who put the figure closer to £3.2bn. The government settled for a compromise figure of £2.4bn.

BBC News, 23 October 2012:

London 2012: Olympics and Paralympics £377m under budget

The cost of the London Olympics and Paralympics will be £377m less than expected, according to the Government.

The combined budget for the two events was £9.29bn, but the projected cost is £8.92bn.

Savings came from a drop in security, transport and construction expenses.

In other words, "Our £6.89bn overspend was actually just a £6.52bn overspend when all things are taken into account! Huzzah!"

The latest BBC News story doesn't even mention the original estimates at all, although an earlier news story - from July - at least featured Hugh Robinson evading the question: 

Addressing the original bid budget of £2.4bn, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said there was a "recognition right from the word go that figure would have to change dramatically on the basis of delivering the Games".

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.