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Pressure builds on Briton over Anschutz visit
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Western attire, including a silver monogrammed cowboy belt buckle, given to British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott by Colorado business tycoon Philip Anschutz has landed the politician in more hot water with the British press.

Prescott already faces a parliamentary probe in connection with a two-day visit last July to Anschutz's Equus Ranch near Greeley.  Anschutz Entertainment Group-Europe has rights to develop London's Millennium Dome.  AEG-Europe is expected to be the landlord to a South African company that plans to develop a hotel and casino on the site.  Until May, Prescott was in a position to influence casino approval.

In addition to the belt buckle and belt, Prescott received gifts of a leather notebook, spurs, cowboy boots and a Stetson straw cowboy hat, worth $1,354 in total, said Jim Monaghan, an Anschutz spokesman.

Under British parliament rules, all gifts worth more than about $200 are government property.  If recipients want to keep them, they must pay for them, according to British press reports.

Prescott will disclose the gifts in an annual government report due in two weeks, a spokeswoman from his office told the Daily Mail newspaper.  She declined to say whether Prescott had already declared the gifts.

Britain's parliamentary standards commissioner, Sir Philip Mawer, has launched a "full probe" into Prescott's behavior, according to British press reports.

Anschutz has not been contacted in connection with the probe, Monaghan said.

The Mail reported Sunday that during Prescott's visit, he galloped around Anschutz's 32,000-acre ranch on a thoroughbred stallion and attempted to lasso livestock.

Until May, Prescott was in charge of rules that managed planning and development, one of the steps in the process a casino would have to clear before it could open.

Prescott has denied that the Colorado trip was a conflict of interest, saying he has no influence over casino licensing.  That is managed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and by an independent regulator, according to Bloomberg News.

The Millennium Dome site is known as The 02 after a naming-rights deal with a British telecom company.

Prescott and three others spent two nights at Anschutz's ranch, which includes a nine-hole golf course and a spa, according to British media reports.

He then flew to Los Angeles to meet with Timothy Leiweke, chief executive of AEG, a Los Angeles-based subsidiary of Anschutz Corp.

Staff writer Beth Potter can be reached at 303-820-1503 or bpotter@denverpost.com.


http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4034769