A councillor renowned for cutting services and a journalist renowned for cutting criticism of David Cameron: just two of the panel charged with investigating and reducing waste at City Hall.
When Boris Johnson announced an investigation into spending at the LDA and GLA, it was broadly welcomed. The Evening Standard had revealed a number of cases where money had been misspent or funds had been stolen by outside organisations. Any investigation that would help tighten up procedures would therefore clearly be a good thing.
But as details of Boris' 'forensic audit panel' came out it soon became clear that the panel have been hired for political rather than just administrative ends.
Of the panel of five, two are Conservative councillors and one is the ex-editor of The Sunday Telegraph. Of the five, four are known to be heavily involved in Conservative politics and only one has any expertise in forensic auditing. And as far as we know, his role in the group is only thought to be an advisory one.
One of the two councillors is Stephen Greenhalgh. Greenhalgh is well known in his borough for sneaking through cuts to voluntary organisations. While at Hammersmith and Fulham Council he made the following cuts to services that he believed were 'not a political priority':
While stringent about these cuts in spending, he was much less stringent about those to his own income. At the same time that caretakers in his borough were being asked to accept a cut of 50% to their pensionable income, Greenhalgh agreed a 14% increase in his own allowances on top of an 18% increase to his salary.
Greenhalgh's new colleague Patience Wheatcroft is also no stranger to cuts. While editor of The Sunday Telegraph, she heavily censored a column by Christopher Booker that was critical of David Cameron. Booker said that it was the first time it had happened to him in the sixteen years he had written for the paper.
Why she felt the need to so rigorously defend the Conservative leader is not known. But it certainly does not bode well for her role in the 'independent' review that Boris promised to establish.
It is also still not known just how much this investigation will cost, or how much it will duplicate a similar investigation already being carried out.
What is known however, is that the group will report back within just a month and conclude within just two. And given the partisan makeup of its panel, we may well need another group to independently investigate whatever findings it presents.