Boris Johnson today refused to release the source of a seven figure donation to his Mayor's Fund for London.
The existence of the donation from a "major bank" was first revealed last month, but the Mayor today declined to reveal who they were, saying only that:
"I am aware of the donor’s identity."
Boris has previously insisted that he would not be told the identity of donors to his charity, because of possible conflicts of interest.
Writing in response to a question from Liberal Democrat AM Mike Tuffrey last year he argued that:
"naming donors might give rise to the suggestion that certain individuals expect something in return for their donations. For this reason, I have agreed that I should not be informed of the names of the individual donors."
However it is now clear that the Mayor is not only aware of the source of at least two major donations, but is actively involved in encouraging others.
And while under electoral law all donations to Boris's political campaign must be declared, no such rule applies to donations to the Mayor's Fund.
Boris has repeatedly described the Mayor's Fund as an "independent non-political" charity.
However, far from being independent, it is actually based on the third floor of City Hall itself and has the Mayor as the sole patron.
And while he argues that "listing out individual donations might adversely impact on the level of donations" this does not alter the fact that the current set up is open to abuse.
As Mike Tuffrey said last year:
"I hope that this new charity is successful over the next few years."However we should not pretend this is just an ordinary charity. The Mayor must take steps to avoid the inevitable accusation that some donors are seeking to influence or win favour with him."I urge the Mayor to ensure that all donations of £1,000 or more are formally declared and open to public inspection. Large donations that are not publicly declared will generate controversy and in the long term harm the reputation of the charity."
The Charity Commission is very clear that all charities should maintain neutrality and independence from political parties.
No such independence or neutrality is possible with the Mayor's Fund for London.
If Boris is really committed to "cleaning up" London politics, then he should ensure that these conflicts of interest are dealt with right away.