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AEG Chief Denies ‘Vicious’ Millennium Dome Accusations

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – Tim Leiweke, CEO of Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group, defended the company’s relationship with beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott this week, calling British media reports that the firm’s founder had sought favors from Prescott “vicious” and “false.”

Leiweke added that the reputation of Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz was being trashed in an effort to bring down Prescott, according to the Los Angeles Times.

News broke last week that Prescott had met with Anschutz on seven occasions, including a two-night stay at Anschutz’s Colorado ranch, while the tycoon’s company is looking to secure a lucrative deal to bring the first super-casino to Great Britain at AEG’s Millennium Dome. Allegations of corruption and scandal were quickly aired by Britain’s political opposition and the media.

Leiweke told the paper that he decided to speak publicly out of concern that the media blitz could undercut a serious economic redevelopment program.

“It is unfair to the development, the people of London who will pay a price for not maximizing this opportunity and to Phil,” he told the Times.

Alistair Graham, the head of Parliament’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, has urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to order an investigation to “clear the air.” Rival bidders for the super-casino license have also questioned Prescott’s judgment. A full investigation into Prescott's behavior was officially ordered today (July 13), to be led by Britain's Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Sir Philip Mawer.

Blair’s office has said he still has confidence in the deputy prime minister.

Prescott’s image has been tarnished after nearly a decade in power, after revelations surfaced last spring of an extramarital affair with a secretary. Prescott has shrugged off the latest accusations as well as calls for his resignation.

“If the allegation is corruption, I know it’s not there and nobody has produced any evidence of such a thing,” he told Britain’s The Independent newspaper.

Leiweke, who said he was present at all but one meeting between Prescott and Anschutz, said the company did not attempt to lobby Prescott on the casino deal. He noted that Prescott did not have any responsibility for issuing the casino license.

“Prescott, because of his indiscretions, has become a wounded animal and the media smells blood,” Leiweke told the Times. “We know it is about Prescott and not about us.” –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers