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ODA 'may not return Lottery money'

Money taken from the National Lottery to help fund the London 2012 Olympics project may never be returned, it has been revealed.

John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said he could not guarantee that any of the £2bn taken from the Lottery will be paid back.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said it is “wishful thinking” any money will be returned, as total costs for the project have trebled from original estimates to £9.3bn.

At a PAC hearing looking at the latest preparations for the Games, Mr Leigh told Mr Armitt that it is essential the Lottery gets some of the money repaid.

He said: “You cannot possibly guarantee they will get the money back? It is possible the Lottery would not get any money back.”

Mr Armitt, in charge of Olympic build and infrastructure, replied: “I would not guarantee anything.”

But he said there would be “development gains” after the Games.

Jonathan Stephens, the culture department’s permanent secretary, said the aim is for the Lottery to get a share of the profits from the development and regeneration of the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, after 2012.

He told the MPs: “This is a long-term investment and development programme. Over that sort of scale these sorts of investment are realisable but it is a long-term development programme.”

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