Opposition groups on the London Assembly have long been suspicious of the 'cosy' relationship between Boris Johnson and his new GLA Chief Executive Leo Boland.
Boland was brought in at great expense from Barnet Council and now earns £15,000 more than George Osborne's "fat cat" limit.
Incidentally, he also earns over £20,000 more than the Chief Executive received under the 'profligate' Ken regime.
But I guess you get what you pay for, and while the former Chief Exec Anthony Mayer was widely seen as independent, Boland is increasingly seen as "The Mayor's man."
And so it was that when I first published pictures of Boris's Fire Chief Brian Coleman asleep at his desk, it was apparently Boland who intervened to flush out the whistleblower.
One source told me that they had been warned off of passing stories to Tory Troll, and another had their GLA email account openly searched for correspondence with me.
Now Leo Boland has turned his attention to the Assembly itself.
A leaked document sent to Tory Troll reveals that he is pushing for the rights to monitor, and review all official scrutiny reports produced by the Assembly.
According to the proposals, Boland would be able to:
"review draft scrutiny reports before their publication for the purposes of providing quality control and oversight of the written output from the Authority. This opportunity for review would be personal to the Chief Executive and would not be delegated to any other officer."
This is being proposed because:
a. It would provide the Chief Executive with direct oversight and input into the quality of scrutiny reports.b. The Chief Executive would be aware of reports before their publication, and would be able to anticipate any potential issues of conflict or controversy. (my emphasis)
Under these plans Boland would not only have the powers to 'anticipate' these conflicts and controversies but also potentially to step in and eliminate them.
This would massively blur the separation of powers between the GLA executive and the body that is elected to scrutinise it.
It would also further weaken the work of an Assembly already earmarked for abolition by senior members of the Conservative party.
A report on the plans to be discussed by Assembly leaders today acknowledges these worries but insists that:
"The Chief Executive has a statutory dual-facing role. It would be important to avoid any potential compromise of this position arising from any perception that the Chief Executive’s review of draft reports amounts to approving them or agreeing with their contents. It would equally be very important to avoid any perception of executive interference in the scrutiny function, particularly in cases where reports express disagreement between the Assembly and the Mayor."
However, whether these 'perceptions' are avoided or not, this is the implication of what is being proposed by Leo Boland.
The Assembly as it is, has very few powers, but what it does have is the power to scrutinise the Mayor and the GLA.
Any attempt by "the Mayor's man" to interfere with or weaken that power should be resisted at every step.
Otherwise the Assembly risks being reduced to the kind of North Korean levels of scrutiny already practiced by some Tory AMs.
-Update- Dave Hill has some responses from AMs to this story.