Investigation launched into Boris’s team

7:46 pm - July 9th 2008

by Adam Bienkov    

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After two months of bungled appointments, lost salaries, and enforced resignations, the London Assembly have decided to launch a formal investigation into the way Boris Johnson has appointed people at City Hall.

The decision to launch an investigation came after the assembly were told that the current appointment procedures were ‘adequate’ by Boris Johnson’s First Deputy Mayor.

Labour Assembly Member John Biggs said earlier today:

To lose one advisor might be considered unfortunate but to lose two in two weeks looks like carelessness. Beyond the headlines there are important issues about the appointment of publicly funded staff that need to be addressed to ensure the good management of this authority.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Mike Tuffrey said that the problems exposed in the past two months undermined Boris Johnson’s claims to have made London government more accountable:

Boris Johnson promised Londoners an end to cronyism at City Hall with transparency and clarity about the appointment of advisers and their interests. What we heard today from Tim Parker failed to address the issues about appointments exposed by the recent resignations.

The investigation will be conducted by the Business Management and Administration Committee and will look at four key areas:

  1. How did Mayor Boris Johnson pick his senior City Hall policy advisors?
  2. Were proper recruitment procedures followed?
  3. Was the Mayor properly advised about the use of his powers of appointment? 
  4. What lessons can be learnt for future changes of administration at City Hall?

The announcement comes just two days after the Church of England criticised the decision to cancel the planned investigation into the appointment of Ray Lewis.The new investigation will concentrate on the Ray Lewis fiasco. However, it will almost certainly also touch on the legal mess surrounding the appointment of Simon Milton as well as the unresolved conflicts of interest surrounding other senior appointments.

Speaking at today’s Plenary, Tim Parker tried to gloss over the problems, but did admit that they may have been rushed:

My view is that there is a lot of pressure to get Fred or Fanny into posts so that you can say that you have got somebody there, and I do not think that is potentially the right approach.

The decision to launch the investigation comes at the end of a torrid few weeks for Boris Johnson’s administration and will further stall attempts to move the agenda away from the errors of the past two months.

When Boris Johnson accepted Ray Lewis’s resignation he did so in order to avoid him becoming ‘the story rather than the solution.’

But with increasing attention being paid to the ways in which Boris and his team have allocated power at City Hall, there seems little danger of that problem disappearing any time soon.

(cross-posted from The Tory Troll)

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About the author
Adam Bienkov is a regular contributor and also blogs at Tory Troll, Guardian CIF, and New Statesman
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,London Mayor ,Media ,Westminster

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Reader comments

1. douglas clark

When Boris Johnson accepted Ray Lewis’s resignation he did so in order to avoid him becoming ‘the story rather than the solution.’

I, perhaps wrongly, think that Ray Lewis is still the story.

I am not at all comfortable with guilt before trial, and I am even less comfortable with avoidance of process….

What you or I ought to know is whether there is guilt or not. That seems pretty obvious to me?

I think you’re right that it is very important to clear up the facts about Lewis.

This is especially the case now that Boris’s team have not ruled out Ray Lewis still being involved with the GLA in some other capacity. Effectively he could still be running the Respect Academy programme but without the job title.

If that does happen then his guilt or otherwise, will become a big issue and rightly so.

However, that kind of investigation is beyond what the Assembly can really deal with and could only be looked at by the kind of in-depth inquiry that Boris has now cancelled.

In the meantime, this investigation can look at the reasons why not even the most basic of checks were made on a man who was being employed to run a programme for hundreds of vulnerable kids. It may also throw some light on the problems of using voluntary organisations and quangos to manage public services.

It’s not enough really, but it’s the best we’ve got now that Boris has dropped the inquiry.

I find it astonishing that so little has been said about Tim Parker – a man who has effectively become deputy mayor without even being elected to the seat. And on top of that he refuses to declare his interests like the others. It’s such blatant cronyism, and the Tories are amusingly saying nothing about it. Complete silence that the mayor can bring so many of his mates into his own domain without oversight. About time the London Assembly started paying attention to this.

The Assembly will almost certainly be looking at the appointment of Tim Parker as well. Basically there are only a couple of senior posts, which do not have some form of legal or other difficulty facing them. Parker isn’t one of them.

Looks like a fairly serious mess that they’ve got themselves into. Trying to put square pegs into round holes is never the best approach.

I don’t live in London and so can’t be sure, but I’ll bet the Evening Standard has been recently been full of hard hitting espose’s of Boris’ troubles, courtesy of the fearless pen of Andrew “Truthseeker” Gilligan? Right?

The Standard as a whole hasn’t been too bad, but Mr. Gilligan seems to have given up all pretence of being a serious journalist and now just spends his time penning Richard Littlejohn style rants on Politically Correct Britiain and Da Left.

He has also started writing about the dark ‘anti-Boris forces’ that are out to get his Bozza. As far as I can work out, these amount to a handful of bloggers on the interweb. Expect a hard hitting expose along the lines of ‘anti-Boris bloggers linked to Tamil Tigers’ some time soon.

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  1. Terry Duffelen

    Investigation launched into Boris’s team

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