Leyton Orient Football Club can confirm that last week it issued proceedings in the High Court against the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) for a judicial review.
It is the second time that Orient have been involved in judicial review proceedings in relation to the Olympic Stadium. The first legal challenge in 2011 led to the process being abandoned, and a new tender process commenced.
The first judicial review also included Tottenham Hotspur and was against the Mayor of London, the Government, the London Borough of Newham and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (being the predecessor to the LLDC).
The current judicial review application is a straightforward claim relating to the bid process.
Under the LLDC’s bidding rules, Orient should have been ‘teamed’ which means they should have been considered for a joint tenancy with West Ham United. The LLDC have, instead, refused to team Orient – something which the Club believes is in breach of the bid rules.
All bidders were required to consent to ‘teaming’ when submitting their bids, and the LLDC was required to team as many bidders as the event calendars would allow. The purpose of this requirement was to ensure maximum use of the stadium by as many concessionaires as possible.
Instead, the LLDC’s decision has left West Ham United as the only potential tenant, as predicted by Boris Johnson (now Chairman of the LLDC) at the outset of this latest bid process.
The Club would not have issued proceedings if it were not confident of success. Two specialist counsel (including a leading Queen’s Counsel) have confirmed that the Club have a very strong position and in one counsel’s words: “It is a massive mistake on the part of the LLDC”.
During the judicial review process, the Club will be seeking disclosure of internal LLDC documents relating to the decision to exclude Orient.
Barry Hearn, Chairman of Leyton Orient, said: “I was concerned that this was a done deal for West Ham before the bidding began, but the fact that both clubs had to commit to teaming made me believe that we were getting involved in a fair process. However, the LLDC have not stuck by their own rules and have left Orient with no option but to challenge their decision in the Courts.
“We took an interest in the Stadium when we knew they were going to cover the athletics track, and our proposal for tenancy was built on a foundation of a large scale community project. Our plan was, and remains, to be the community offering alongside a wealthy Premier League club. We don’t intend to interfere with West Ham’s residency at the Stadium, but maintain the position that if they are going to be there, then we need to be there too.
“Our presence, alongside West Ham, would ensure weekly use of the stadium, vibrancy of the Olympic Park, and a lasting legacy for the Olympic Games. And as I have said many times before, if West Ham move to the Stadium and we are left a mile up the road, Leyton Orient will not survive. If we are both in the Olympic Stadium, we are at least being put on a level playing field, and Orient will find its own way for the future. I have big plans for the Club and the community.”