Thursday, 8 October 2009

Boris Johnson and Veronica Wadley cronyism row

Boris Johnson was accused of cronyism last night after it emerged he tried to install former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley as London Arts Council Chair.

Two of the three members of the selection panel described Wadley as "manifestly the least qualified" candidate for the job and agreed not to forward her for interview.

One panel member described Wadley as "inadequate" with "almost no arts credibility" and only Boris's Adviser Munira Mirza disagreed.

However, this decision was overruled by Boris, who described Wadley as "highly qualified" and subsequently recommended her for the position.

News of her imminent appointment was then leaked to the IoS and the process was only stopped because it was judged that Boris had broken the Nolan rules on public appointments.

In a letter sent to the Department of Media Culture and Sport, panel member Liz Fogan said that:

"we are left with a due process that was not followed, a candidate who was manifestly less qualified than three of her competitors and three distinguished candidates put through a process that seems to have had questionable validity. My conclusion is that the Mayor's intended appointment was based on reasons other than the selection of the best candidate for the job."

Ridding Cronyism from City Hall

Under Wadley's editorship, the Evening Standard ran a relentless campaign against Ken Livingstone and for Boris Johnson.

The close relationship led to the paper being referred to as the Evening Boris and it's new owner has worked hard to restore it's political independence.

Boris too, was accused of cronyism last year after he installed one of his major election donors onto the board of the LDA.

It was also reported that he intended to appoint his brother Jo as "Director of Strategy" at City Hall. The appointment never occurred.

Wadley's defence, that one panel member was "a lefty" (Liz Fogan sits on the Scott Trust) is to be expected.

However, it is Boris's decision which is the remarkable one, as much for its political naivety as for any apparent breach of the rules.

I mean how did Boris think this was going to look?

London Assembly Chairman Darren Johnson said today:

"I would be extremely concerned if the mayor was not following transparent criteria for appointments. This London Mayor has only been in office a year and a half, yet we have had an extraordinary series of scandals and mistakes. An independent report commissioned by the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority admonished the Mayor for his "extraordinary and unwise" behaviour when Damien Green MP was arrested. The rushed nature of his appointments of deputy Mayor’s certainly contributed to the subsequent loss of some of them. Finally, another deputy mayor had to resign after he was able to falsify his expenses over a period of several months.”

An aide to Boris Johnson said today:

"If he has to sit out for a new secretary of state, he will."


TomF said...

Wadley was Boris Johnson's most important supporter, backing Johnson before he was picked as the official candidate and famously telling him: "Boris, you've got to pull your finger out."

AdamB said...

Yes she personally intervened to encourage his candidacy I believe.

Chris said...

I wonder whether the Evening Standard will report this.

AdamB said...

It might be a bit close to the bone for them Chris, but you never know.

Anonymous said...

She'll get the job in the end just you wait.

AdamB said...

The Evening Standard are now covering it, although no mention of cronyism

It's all about a power struggle with the government and Boris and the Tories are sticking to their guns.

Grunt said...

Boris Johnson is well and truely unfit to be Mayor for London and the London Assembly now needs to hold a vote of No Confidence regarding this Mayoralty . Enough is Enough and Boris Johnson should resign .

AdamB said...

I think you might be getting slightly carried away there Grunt.

Grunt said...

Why do you think that Adam ? Boris Johnson does deserve some Poetic justice , dont you think ?

barry rochford said...

It makes sense for Mayors and whoever wins an election to include in their political
team people who have supported them along the line and who ahve some competence. I wouldn't argue with, for example, the appointment of Simon Milton by Boris or before that John Ross by Ken. Those are functional posts and advisory in any case
However, when you have someone who will wield power in a large area who is seen as inappropriate compared to better candidates, you have to ask what is going on.
Also, Boris would do better to be careful given how some of his appointments have departed in disgrace. If he isn't seen to be making the choice, he can't be blamed. However, sometimes you feel Boris hasn't thought things through .......

Jonathan said...

Boris clearly expects a future Conservative administration to bend to his every wish. I'm not so sure things will work out that way...

Appealing of Ealing said...

Jonathan said...
"Boris clearly expects a future Conservative administration to bend to his every wish. I'm not so sure things will work out that way..."

Interesting. I think he might enjoy promoting himself as the mayor who faces down his own budget-cutting party, batting for London regardless of party politics. It'll be interesting, and more so if we don't have a Tory mayor in 2012. (211)

Anonymous said...

What did you expect, Boris and the Crooks.

Old Sailor