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Sunday, January 11, 1998 Published at 16:00 GMT

UK: Politics

Mandelson rejects 'dictator' claims
image: [ Peter Mandelson on his fact-finding trip to Disney World in Florida ]
Peter Mandelson on his fact-finding trip to Disney World in Florida

The Minister Without Portfolio, Peter Mandelson, has denied accusations of handling the Millennium Dome project like a "dictator".

The minister, one of Tony Blair's closest aides, was replying to an attack by Stephen Bayley who quit as the Dome's creative director saying it could turn out to be "crap" and accusing Mr Mandelson of "running the project like a dictator".

Mr Mandelson remains optimistic about the £750m project and was adamant in his rejection of Mr Bayley's scathing remarks.

"I have not been a dictator but I have been decisive and I have got a grip on a project that was suffering from drift."

"The Millennium company has a first-rate chief executive and team working with her, but earlier last year the last Government was not providing the leadership they needed to do their job well."

"Mr Bayley's other remarks do not merit a response." the minister insisted.

The former creative director, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, said the New Millennium Experience Company was run like a Soviet dictatorship and accused Mr Mandelson of being too easily swayed by public opinion.

"I don't like political interference and they don't like creative advice so it's completely undo-able from my point of view."

"There is a total mismatch between the creative impulse and political impulse," he told the paper.

[ image: Stephen Bayley condemns Mandelson's management style]
Stephen Bayley condemns Mandelson's management style
Mr Bayley said he had grown tired of his views being ignored by both the Minister Without Portfolio and Millennium Commission chiefs.

"The whole way it is being run is pure East Germany. I get memos from the Millennium Commission talking about the `creative task force'. It's awful ... and absolutely scary."

Mr Bayley handed in his resignation before Christmas after working on the project at Greenwich in south-east London for six months. It was accepted by the New Millennium Experience Company chief executive, Jennie Page, this week.

In a statement, Ms Page applauded his work saying he had "contributed significantly" to bringing design companies to work on the exhibition attractions inside the Dome.

Despite the acrimony, Mr Bayley, a founding director of Sir Terence Conran's Design Museum, himself insisted he would remain a "committed enthusiast" for the Millennium Experience.

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