PR supremo Mike Lee dead at 61

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin
Mike Lee

PR supremo Mike Lee, who spearheaded London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, has died from a heart attack at the age of 61.

The news was announced by Vero, the communications consultancy that Lee founded. Before London 2012, the PR specialist was already well known as a spokesman for the Premier League and Uefa.

Afterwards, he was involved in the successful bids for the Rio 2016, Pyeongchang 2018 and Paris 2024 Olympics, as well as the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which attracted great controversy. These victories cemented his reputation as a major events kingmaker.

Lee was born into a coalmining family in Sunderland, going on to win a scholarship to grammar school and then Oxford University. Recently, he had taken a step back from the day-to-day running of Vero to pursue other interests, including studying for a Master's degree and spending more time cycling.

"Thanks to the legacy of Mike, and the strength of the senior team that has been at the core of the business over the past decade, Vero is well positioned for the future, with clients across the world of sport," a statement from Vero read.

Director John Zerafa added: "My fellow directors Clair Ashley, Sujit Jasani and I have been incredibly fortunate to have known and worked with Mike over many years. He was a force in communications - always inspiring, challenging and innovative and leaves an indelible legacy in the world of sport. 

"He will be deeply missed by all those who have worked with him, and been advised by him. On behalf of the entire Vero team, our thoughts are with Mike's wife Heather, his son Alex and step-son Euan."

Lee was voted PR professional of the year in 2005 and awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honour's List in the same year. His book The Race for the 2012 Olympics was published a year later. 

Lee's wife, Dame Heather Rabbatts, was chief executive of Lambeth Council and became the first BAME director of the Football Association in 2011.