Olympics contractors 'searched if suspected of press leak'

Organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games have been accused of placing “gagging orders” on construction firms, preventing them from talking to the press.

According to an investigation by BBC London, companies working on the Olympics site in east London have to sign contracts agreeing not to “embarrass” Olympics bodies or sponsors.

The contracts prevent them from talking publicly about their work for six years and allow the Olympic Delivery Authority to search a firm’s premises and emails if they suspect confidentiality has been breached.

BBC London’s Olympics correspondent Adrian Warner said: “The companies I have talked to are shocked they have to sign a document which effectively allows 2012 to walk into their premises and start searching them.

“Legal experts have told me these contracts are draconian.”

But the ODA has inisted that all of its contracts are standard business deals for public bodies, and similar to those issued by the BBC.

It also said that it had proved its commitment to revealing details of, for example, the discovery of contaminated materials, rather than trying to hush it up.

An ODA spokesman said: “As with any company or public body, ODA contractors are required to sign a confidentiality agreement covering confidential information, including security and commercial information critical to the success of the project.

“This is standard practice and indeed the BBC’s own supplier requirements request confidentiality from its suppliers and access to their business premises if necessary.

“We have a proven commitment to transparency and have proactively communicated activity on the project, regularly alongside our contractors, including sensitive issues such as the discovery of contaminated material on the Olympic Park.

“In addition, all ODA contractors have to meet their legal disclosure obligations, such as reporting information on serious accidents directly to the Health and Safety Executive, and this information is publicly available through the usual channels.”

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