Saturday, 28 June 2008

Boris Johnson's advisor exempted from ethics code

Boris Johnson's senior planning advisor, is not obliged to declare any gifts, or private interests that conflict with his role, it was revealed today.

In response to a written question from Darren Johnson, Boris admitted that the head of the Local Government Association and former head of Westminster Council, Sir Simon Milton will not be bound by the code of ethics that apply to all other City Hall staff.

London Assembly and Green Party Member Darren Johnson said:
"It is without precedence for anyone working for the Mayor, especially in such a senior position, to be beyond all rules governing how they go about their work. 
"To follow Sir Simon Milton's advice on some of the most valuable real estate in the world, without any formal checks on what may have influenced his view, shows a worrying disregard for the principles of good governance by London's Mayor."

Sir Simon was initially intended to be a 'Director' of planning at City Hall, but after it was revealed that his roles at the LGA and Westminster legally precluded him from the job, his title was changed to 'Advisor' and he lost any salary that he had expected to receive.

However, despite this maneuvering, Milton is still thought to retain an identical role, but without having to follow the code of ethics established to prevent corruption.

Pillow Talk

In a sign of the problems he may face, Milton hit controversy last month when his partner, the head of planning at Westminster Council, joked about having 'pillow talk' and a 'word in the ear' with Milton on planning issues in the borough. 

It was pointed out that this was far from funny considering that most major development plans arise in the Westminster borough. 

There have also been concerns raised over the serious conflicts of interest with Milton's role as the head of the Local Government Association. 

The LGA is the chief lobbying group of local authorities in the country. As part of this role, Milton will have hundreds of interactions and relations with politicians and business people. But because of the maneuvering by Boris and his team, Milton will not have to declare any of these before giving the Mayor advice.

Bedding Down

When Boris came to power he did so with the promise of 'cleaning up cronyism' and rooting out 'corruption' at City Hall. 

But as the weeks go by it is becoming increasingly clear that many of the procedures and rules established precisely to prevent that type of corruption, have been sneaked around and eluded by Boris and his team.

In his latest rant, Andrew Gilligan warns the capital about the dark 'anti-Boris forces' following his pal's every move. 

But unlike Gilligan, the journalists and bloggers following Boris now, are doing to this administration what Gilligan and his pals failed to do to the last administration, until it was too late.

Because it is precisely at this point when Boris and is new administration is bedding itself down, that we should all be watching closest who they are climbing into bed with. 


Stevep said...

Gilligan's article reads like McCarthy era propoganda or something from Animal Farm. Beware the anti-Boris forces he says. They are led by the words of the old leader who plots against him. Do not listen to his lies.

Last week he sounded like Littlejohn as you pointed out. Now he is at risk of becoming a joke.

angelneptunestar said...

You are absolutely right when you say there should have been much more scrutiny of the past mayoralty by journalists, including Andrew Gilligan. It is also good to have scrutiny now.

However, you must admit, personally, the new Mayor is abstemious. He has refused a government car, he has refused to stay in a £400 per night hotel for the Olympics and he has made cost cutting a priority.

There are so many people watching his every step, and people also watching those people, that very few transgressions are likely to sneak in under the wire, if anyone is transgressing.

Chris said...

Ignore Gilligan. He's just jealous that other people are doing his job now.

I suppose he can always write a book about his on time as a journalist. 'Why I was right' by Andrew Gilligan, to be followed up in later years by 'How I got on the gravy train' by Sir Andrew Gilligan.