Outgoing Travelwatch chief Brian Cooke, who was sacked last week after endorsing Boris Johnson, has been replaced by a temporary chair with no party political affiliation.
Tory Assembly members James Cleverly and Roger Evans had suggested that the decision to oust Cooke was done in a moment of 'red-mist' and was an attempt to make the watchdog a 'front' for Labour. However, despite their suspicions, the board decided to appoint David Liebling, who has no connections to any political party.
Cooke was removed from the Travelwatch board after breaking a number of regulations set up to ensure that the watchdog remained independent from political influence.
The committee ruled that he had gone well beyond his remit and brought his office into disrepute by issuing a press release attacking Ken Livingtone and endorsing Boris Johnson for Mayor.
However, the Chair of the City Hall Transport committee, and Labour Assembly Member Valerie Shawcross was singled out by some including Tory blogger and now Policy Exchange wonk Phil Taylor as being 'nakedly political and vindictive' in her decision to recommend the termination of Cooke's contract.
However, the appointment of David Liebling as the new temporary chief of Travelwatch appears to have vindicated her decision.
Speaking today Shawcross said that:
"I would like to thank David for taking on this role until a permanent Chair can be recruited. He has the unanimous support of the TravelWatch Board, and the fact that he has no particular affiliations will help restore the objectivity that is essential to an independent watchdog organisation like TravelWatch."
Perhaps Cleverly, Evans and Taylor would like to add their congratulations to David Liebling as well?