There were farcical scenes today as London Conservatives tried to hide a disgraced councillor from television news crews.
London Tonight and the BBC had both come to film suspended councillor Bertha Joseph as she voted in favour of Boris Johnson's plans for the Fire Authority.
However, the camera crews were ordered to leave at the "discretion" of the Chairman Brian Coleman.
Opposition members spoke up against the order, but were shouted down by Coleman, leading the Liberal Democrat group to walk out in protest.
Officials confirmed to me that crews had been allowed to film meetings before.
Despite this Brian Coleman refused to allow a vote on the issue.
Liberal Democrat Authority Member Caroline Pidgeon said after the meeting:
“The Tories want to hide their shameful secret from the public that today’s Budget was passed due to the support of Councillor Joseph – someone who has been found guilty of serious wrongdoing and is unable to act as a councillor in her own borough.“This is simply wrong and the Liberal Democrats want no part of this. It brings the Authority and the Mayor into disrepute.”“It is time that the Mayor took decisive action and sacked Bertha Joseph”.
However, the Mayor has repeatedly refused to sack her from his Fire Authority.
Today's budget meeting was his last opportunity to do so before the elections.
Boris wrote to Bertha two weeks ago today, giving her 14 days to respond.
However, even if Boris does choose to sack her now it would make little difference.
In order to get through his policies, he has given up his principles. Bertha Joseph was always expendable once that happened.
Any claim to have "cleaned up London politics" should now be treated with the scorn it deserves.
-Update- Bertha Joseph has now resigned:
A spokesperson for the Mayor said:
"Bertha Joseph has offered her resignation from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and the Mayor has accepted it.Councillor Joseph still disputes the complaint made against her but the Mayor believes the first tier tribunal made a compelling case against her continuing to serve on the authority.The Mayor had allowed Ms Joseph two weeks to make her case to him, in the interests of natural justice and due process.In the last hour, she has written to the Mayor to offer her resignation. As there are no more scheduled meetings of LFEPA until after the local elections and the authority is about to go into purdah, the Mayor will await the annual review of LFEPA membership in May before appointing a new member to the Board."
London Assembly Labour Leader Len Duvall said:
"You have to question the integrity and judgement of this mayor standing by someone who has been disgraced and banned from public office. It's not the first time one of the mayor's appointments has had to leave under a sleazy cloud but he could have done the right thing a lot sooner."