MP denies M&C Millennium bias

Peter Mandelson has shrugged off complaints from rival agencies that M&C Saatchi was given favourable treatment during the controversial pitch for the pounds 16 million campaign to promote the Millennium Dome.

Peter Mandelson has shrugged off complaints from rival agencies

that M&C Saatchi was given favourable treatment during the controversial

pitch for the pounds 16 million campaign to promote the Millennium

Dome.



Mandelson, the minister without portfolio who is in charge of the

Greenwich project, admitted there was ’an accelerated process’ during

the pitch, but said it was ’one that took place over two months, it was

hardly one week to the next’.



Following complaints that rival bidders were denied adequate access to

the New Millennium Experience Company, Mandelson was questioned about

the affair on Tuesday by the Commons select committee on culture, media

and sport. He insisted M&C Saatchi emerged as the best of the bids.



Mandelson rejected a suggestion from the Labour MP, Alan Keen, that the

agency should have been excluded because of Bill Muirhead’s previous

work on the project.



The minister said it would have been wrong to ban M&C Saatchi from the

shortlist. Referring to his criticism of the agency’s Tory ad depicting

Tony Blair with ’demon eyes’, he said: ’Whatever you may say about it -

and I have said one or two things about it myself in the past - it is

one of Britain’s premier advertising agencies.’



Mandelson admitted some Labour MPs wanted him to exclude M&C Saatchi as

’an act of vengeance or spite’ because of its Tory links. ’I wouldn’t

dream of doing that because my job is to get the best professional

people working for the company and the best value for money.’