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:
- How did Mayor Boris Johnson pick his senior City Hall policy advisors?
- Were proper recruitment procedures followed?
- Was the Mayor properly advised about the use of his powers of appointment?
- 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.
This post now also appears over at Liberal Conspiracy