(P.84) English Heritage boss resigns on eve of shake-up

by Anna Whitney, The Independent, Saturday 14 July 2001

THE CHIEF executive of English Heritage has resigned just before the launch of a five year reorganisation plan she helped to orchestrate.

Pam Alexander's departure to pursue "new opportunities" has come after the controversial decision to allow King Constantine of Greece to hold his daughter's wedding in a stately home owned by English Heritage at cost price.

Princess Alexia and Carlos Morales Quintata's wedding two years ago at Kenwood House in north London was attended by the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

Members of the Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised English Heritage in February after hearing details of the arrangement made between the former Greek monarch and his friend, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, who was chairman of the government agency at the time.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for English Heritage said her departure was not connected to the controversy surrounding the incident. "It would be completely wrong to say that," she said. "Pam's departure is absolutely nothing to do with that, and anything implying other wise is totally untrue."

Pam Alexander: Departure 'nothing to do' with deal

Describing her four years leading English Heritage as hugely challenging and rewarding, Ms Alexander said: "I leave having created a stronger and more robust organisation... Now is the right time for me to move on to new opportunities.

As the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment, English Heritage is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is funded partly by the Government and partly from revenue earned from historic properties such as Kenwood, along with other services.

In the year 2000-2001 its public funding was £114m, and income from other sources amounted to £32m.

Last year it carried out a comprehensive review of all existing policies for the historic environment, championed by Ms Alexander, as the first stage in the development of a new strategy for heritage by the Government.

Carole Souter, 42, currently English Heritage's director of regional operations, will be acting chief executive when Ms Alexander leaves in September.

English Heritage received £34,000 from King Constantine for the hire of Kenwood House. But an anticipated further donation of £25,000 failed to materialise.

When an investigation was launched into the deal, Sir Jocelyn was revealed to have paid English Heritage £5,000 out of his own pocket, apparently because the former king was out of the country. Ms Alexander said in February that his cheque had been reimbursed. She apologised for previously failing to mention the source of the donation.

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14/7/01 Last updated 14/7/01