Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Boris personally approved Ian Clement's expenses

Boris Johnson personally approved Ian Clement's credit card logs and expenses for several months of this year it was revealed today.

Between March and June the Mayor was personally responsible for signing off Clement's credit card logs and expenses, a committee of the London Assembly was told.

Speaking after the meeting today, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group at City Hall Mike Tuffrey said:

"Since March 2009 the Mayor has been personally responsible for approving the expense claims of his Deputy Mayors.

"Serious questions remain about why Boris Johnson personally approved these claims, when staff knew there was a history of irregularities. The Mayor now needs to come and explain himself to the Assembly."

Boris's 'chief of staff' Sir Simon Milton, told the Assembly that the Mayor asked Clement to return his corporate credit card as early as August last year.

The Executive Director of Resources Martin Clarke also said that he repeatedly told Clement in person and in writing to desist from making personal use of the card.

However, despite this Clement continued to keep and misuse his card right up until he was forced to resign this week.

Despite having signed off these claims, Sir Simon still insists that the Mayor had no knowledge of the abuse, or even that Clement still had the card.

Asked then why he had signed off the logs for that card this year, Sir Simon replied that the Mayor could not be expected to "check every heading" that he signed.

Assembly Members today pushed for all GLA expenses to be itemised and made available immediately.

Mike Tuffrey said:

"For the future, there must be line-item disclosure of individual expense claims for the Mayor, for all mayoral advisers and Assembly Members, on-line and to the Audit Committee.”

Neither Ian Clement nor the Mayor were available to be questioned at this morning's meeting.

City Hall have officially referred the case to Scotland Yard. The Police will now decide whether it warrants an investigation.


saifu03 said...

The whole point of signing a document is to show that you have read and understood it. We understand that everything will not be read but it is basically an indicator that the signatory has then taken on the responsibility of the items contained.
If you sign off expenses incorrectly, you take responsibility to have checked the underlying work behind it.

AdamB said...

Yes Boris is Clement's line manager so the buck stops with him. He employed him, he signed off (some) of the receipts and he made an order, but didn't check that it was followed.

The Head of Finance Martin Clarke also admitted some responsibility for not being tough enough with Clement and for not checking the details of the claims closely enough.

Helen said...

Boris "I don't do detail" Johnson, there.

A rather stark reminder that the Mayor Of London's job is to keep tight rein of a huge budget and administer it efficiently, not spend your time falling in rivers and arseing about round the suburbs for photo opportunities to "prove" you care.

AdamB said...

-Update- Sir Simon wants it to be known that contrary to what he told the Assembly today (and what I've reported above) Boris did not tell Clement to return the card in August. Apparently Boris expressed his displeasure and assumed that Clement would return it.

Make of that what you will.

Wireman said...

Forget "line-item disclosure". Surely the question should be: Is there anything else that Londoners' hard-earned cash is being splurged on at the reckless and flamboyant stroke of the Mayor's Mont Blanc?

Helen said...

"Boris expressed his displeasure and assumed that Clement would return it" - what fantastic management.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

In the real world, people have no choice but to accept full responsibility for anything that they sign for. Apparently different rules apply to politicians. How stupid of us not to realise.

Maggie was right to abolish the GLC. Hopefully the GLA will meet the same end.

saifu03 said...

Helen said...
"Boris expressed his displeasure and assumed that Clement would return it" - what fantastic management.

I think that is called "light-touch regulation". To be fair, he does not do detail as he himself stated and all who voted seemed to do so on the basis that he did not follow rules and seemed to be comically incompetent.

Tom said...

"Make of that what you will."

Sir Simon is clearly running the media operation here. He also appears to be trying to run the entire administration, too, and who can blame him? After all, who else can he trust?

AdamB said...

"He also appears to be trying to run the entire administration"

Well somebody's got to.

Anonymous said...

If you can't do detail delegate it. If detail is necessary you are in the wrong job.

Tom said...

"If you can't do detail delegate it"

There is nothing wrong with this statement and, indeed, I can attest that senior leaders who try to do all the detail fall flat on their faces.

However, to delegate you also have to be able to pick good delegates in the first place, and I suspect it's this stage that Boris has a serious weakness, both for picking wrong'uns and for having wrong'uns forced upon him by others without the strength of character to say 'no, thanks'.

Cronyism in an organisation like the GLA is a virtue, not a problem, precisely because it essentially means 'guys I know and can trust'.

Barry Rochford said...

In fairness, if you read everything in full before you sign it or checked every delivery before you signed taht all was in order, you'd never do any work.
Howeve, this is something different in that it is to confirm that expenditure is above board. Gordon Brown and PMs before him had that job by the accounts office - so moats, second mortgages, plasma screens were not personally checked by him.
The problem is that Boris cannot run a whelk stall, so how would he know what has to be delegated to who?
Meanwhile, ther is insufficient investment in London under Boris, but that's not exciting news.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting that this news was carried by the BBC just after a story about the LDA 'losing' between 60-100 million pounds of the Olympics money. LOL@Boris, wattacardetcetc.

Tom said...

A certain former Mayor made the rather good point that Patience Wheatcroft and co. were supposed to have checked the LDA accounts for snags last year. I wonder if they should apologise and hand back their fees?