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O'Rourke's £1m gift

An Irish building magnate has won the £100million contract to run London's Olympic building programme - after making a secret donation to Tony Blair's 2012 bid team.

Reclusive Ray O'Rourke gave the 'confidential' sum as the Prime Minister spearheaded the drive to secure the Olympics for Britain. Now a consortium led by his firm Laing O'Rourke has beaten some of the world's top construction companies to win the six-year Government deal. Laing O'Rourke won the Olympic contract as the leading member of the CLM consortium which also involved another British builder, Mace, and American group CH2M HILL. An industry source said: "There was much surprise that Bechtel, which has the most experience worldwide in this sort of thing, did not win. But then it has long been rumoured that O'Rourke made a substantial sum to the bid."

The Olympic Development Authority refused to say how much the Irishman had given to the bid team, saying it was 'commercially confidential'. Rumours in the industry suggested that O'Rourke had given £1million. But an Olympic spokesman insisted the gift was in fact 'substantially less'. What is not in dispute is that in addition to cash support, the building tycoon also provided substantial help 'in kind'.

LibDem culture spokesman Don Foster said: "It is extraordinary that the Olympic Authority is claiming the donation from Laing O'Rourke is both commercial and confidential. "To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, it is vital the full details of the arrangement are published."

Godric Smith, spokesman for the Olympic Delivery Authority, insisted Mr O'Rourke's donation had not influenced the way the deal was awarded. He said: "The delivery partner selection process had independent oversight and scrutiny at every stage to ensure its integrity. All bids were assessed against a wide range of criteria. CLM emerged as preferred bidder after a rigorous process."

More at: Reclusive Ray

See also: O'Rourke's Gift