Labour Accuse Mayor of 'Tory Witch-Hunt'

First Published: Friday 09 May 2008, 18:52

The Labour group on the London Assembly have accused Mayor Boris Johnson of organising "a Tory witch-hunt to attack the previous administration".

The accusation comes in a letter from Labour's John Biggs in which Mr Biggs says he and his colleagues "welcome any appropriate scrutiny into the allegations of mismanagement and corruption at the London Development Agency, we have serious concerns about the validity of the “audit panel” you set up this week."

Yesterday the Mayor announced that a 'forensic' audit team headed by Patience Wheatcroft will investigate the use of taxpayer's money at the LDA and by the Greater London Authority.

The Labour group challenges the Mayor to explain: "Why did you not make the political affiliations of your panel members clear to the public in your official press release?"

The letter also asks Mayor Johnson to set out "How much are your Conservative friends and colleagues being paid from taxpayers’ money to dig dirt on Ken Livingstone" and questions whether "this an appropriate use of public funds?"

According to the Mayor's press release the panel includes "Andrew Gordon, Head of Investigations within the Forensic Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who will act as Independent Expert Advisor to the Panel."

Mr Biggs has asked the Mayor to clarify if Mr Gordon is acting in a personal capacity and "If PWC are acting, were they appointed by competitive tender? If not, why not? Is there a risk of abuse of public money in this exercise?"

The letter also accuses Mr Johnson of reneging on promises to Londoners. Mr Biggs writes : "You said in your manifesto “all appointments should be based on merit, and not on personal patronage”. In your first week as Mayor you have reneged on a key plank of your election platform. Londoners will be entitled to ask who is really running this administration, the Mayor of London or Conservative Party HQ."

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YOUR COMMENTS

1. at 23:40 on Friday 9th May 2008, toby hall wrote:

Where's the 'impartial' Evening Standard when you need them??!! One week in and de Pfeffel's already created a Tory fiefdom to replace Ken's. Any chance of moral high ground gone...in less than a week!

I have no issue with Tory unpaid expert 'advisors' already in paid posts elsewhere. But how can he get in and then appoint his mate from Oxford (ex BBC Gutto Harri), Wheatcroft, etc etc...?? How's that ending an era of 'sleaze'???!! I know it's obvious, and I'm not personally shocked, but I'm sure lots of Londoners actually believed what he said-I nearly feel sorry for them...

The whole "let's see what Ken's really been up to" thing as well is likely to be a beat up..sure, Livingstone said some dodgy things, had a few mad ideas, and also let the power of the post cloud his judgement on some things- and the behaviour of Jasper was wanting too. But do people really think Livingstone's been siphoning money? Come on...the guy doesn't drive, catches the bus, and doesn't exactly live the life of luxury! It's the same as the 'two jags' myth of prescott. Again, not much sympathy for some of what he did, but the guy owned one 10 year old jag, and had a ministerial jag- but the truth never seems to get in the way of a good story now does it?- and let's not look at their tory equivalents, who are often the equivalents of "two Jag factories" in terms of their assets and spending. This isn't a socialist rant- but much of the complaint about waste seems unfounded- I mean- £300 per year for a Band D flat for the mayor's precept?- come on, if they 'find' savings of £30 for me after employing an army of tory 'advisors' to investigate this, what will be lost?? £30 per household isnt much, but can provide a lot for London. Considering the services provided by the previous administration to try to spread London's success beyond city bonuses(free under 18 buses, subsidised travel for beneficiaries, lobbying for london wage etc)- I'd rather know that someone looking for a job as a cleaner can afford to get to the interview, than get my £30 back-i suspect the outer suburbs won't have the same philanthropic approach however.

2. at 2:57 on Saturday 10th May 2008, Damian Hockney wrote:

John Biggs may have a point and his questions demand an answer. A Mayor who made so much of tackling waste and used the word 'corruption' during the campaign has to make sure that all his actions conform with the rules. And also there needs to be total openness about who is being paid what. Those I speak to at City Hall have said to me that this is an area which is causing some unease. It is all very well during an election campaign making points about opponents' staff being paid large sums, but if you do this yourself within days of taking ofice, you need to disclose what, if anything, the new "deputy mayors" are being paid, how many 110k+ advisers there are etc etc.

On a general point, if we now have two tribes accusing each other of wasting money and indulging in witch-hunts, claim and counter-claim, it really is beginning to look like Z****bw*. I am not allowed by my team to use the Z word, as I am told people switch off when you compare something here with that benighted country.

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