London 2012 Olympics watchdog Meredith Alexander, appointed by Boris Johnson, is quitting in protest at a £7million deal with controversial company Dow Chemical, which has links with the Bhopal plant in India.
Ethics commissioner Ms Alexander has told the London mayor she can play no further part in plans for this summer’s Games.
She is angry that Dow – which has links to the deadly gas leak at the Bhopal plant in India in 1984 – is sponsoring the fabric ‘wrap’ that surrounds the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London.
Critics say Dow, which bought the plant’s owner Union Carbide India Limited in 1999, has not done enough to compensate casualties or clear the contaminated site.
In the disaster, 3,500 people died within days and more than 15,000 in the years since, according to the Indian government. Campaigners put the death toll at 25,000 and say the effects of the gas continue today.
Appointed to the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 body by Mr Johnson two years ago, Ms Alexander said she could no longer stand by the Dow link-up – or her commission’s apparent approval.
‘This has been a really difficult decision,’ she said. ‘I’m really excited about the Olympics, as are Londoners, but they shouldn’t have the toxic legacy of Dow on their consciences.
‘The Games organisers have given Dow an opportunity to whitewash their past and reputation.’
Anger greeted the deal in August. Effigies of London 2012 boss Lord Coe were burnt in India and there were suggestions the country’s athletes could boycott the tournament.
Peter Frankental, of Amnesty International UK, said: ‘The resignation should send strong signals that the London Olympics brand has been tainted by association with one of the worst cases of corporate negligence in living memory.’
Dow has agreed to withdraw branding from stadium panels but denied this was to placate protesters.
Keith Wiggins, of Dow UK, added it should not be judged on the ‘awful legacies’ of the past.