AN Oxhey man's campaign to show we were all a year too early with our millennium celebrations has received official confirmation.

Eight months after most people celebrated Millennium Eve, Mr Leslie Church, 67, of King Edward Road, has finally proved his point - they were 12 months out.

Mr Church has been so riled by people wrongly labelling this year the first of the new millennium he has written to world leaders, such as President Clinton and Prime MinisterTony Blair and broadcasters such as David Dimbleby, Jon Snow and Steve Wright of BBC's Radio 2 when he has caught them making the mistake.

And his campaign has now received official sanction with a letter from the Government confirming the millennium will not start until next year.

He said: "My objection is that we are told that we are celebrating being in the first year the third Millennium, when we are actually celebrating the last year of the second Millennium.

"I first realised there was a problem on New Year's Day when Tony Blair and Bill Clinton both said we were now in a new millennium during their New Year addresses. I could not believe they were being so inaccurate and it irked me so much I wrote to them to highlight the mistake."

Mr Church says hardly a day goes by without a politician or broadcasters mistakenly saying we are in the 21st Century.

The explanation of why this is not the case is: The Anno Domini period, known as the Christian or Common Era, began at the start of 1AD, therefore the first millennium ended 1,000 years later, at the end of 1000, and the second millennium will end another 1,000 later, at the end of 2000, not the beginning.

After failing to educate Tony Blair or Bill Clinton of this arithmetic, Mr Church tried more locally with Watford MP Claire Ward but was disappointed with the response.

He said: "I got a politician's response which was that there were arguments on both sides of the issue - but you cannot argue with the facts," he said.

"I then wrote to David Blunkett Education Minister and he passed the letter on.

"Eventually, I got a response from a government department confirming what I had been saying. I am now sending a follow-up letter to those I have already written to enclosing the Government confirmation of my case."

The Government letter, from Nena Ververglou in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, defends the decision to mark the millennium this year, saying: "The year 2000 is the final year of the 20th Century and 2001 is the beginning of the 21st Century.

"The decision has been taken to concentrate activities, and in particular the Millennium Experience, in the year 2000 since that is the year which all enquiries indicate public opinion of the United Kingdom wish, and intend, to mark." Mr Church intends to continue his campaign.

[Posted on the Watford Observer website on August 4, 2000]