Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Brian Coleman forced to drop "gagging order" against opponents

Boris Johnson's fire chief Brian Coleman has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after I exposed his attempts to ban questions at Fire Authority meetings.

A spokesman confirmed this afternoon that:

"The Chairman has asked officers to withdraw this report pending a further, wider review."

The report which I have saved for posterity was due to go before the Fire Authority tomorrow.

The climbdown comes after my post was picked up by the Evening Standard and The Guardian and after both the Fire Authority and the Mayor's office were contacted by other journalists chasing up the story.

I'm told that Boris Johnson personally put pressure on Brian to drop his proposal, but it remains a lasting indictment of his judgement, that he apparently still has full confidence in him.

And while, Brian has dropped this outrageous proposal, he will still go ahead tomorrow with another outrageous proposal to sack all of London's firefighters.

Although at least now his opponents will be able to publicly question him about it.

-Update- Green Party member of LFEPA Darren Johnson said today:

"Brian Coleman has made himself look completely ridiculous by issuing such draconion proposals and then being forced to backtrack. Backbench representatives being able to ask questions of those in power is a basic of any democratic system.  I still find it worrying that the chair is wanting a review of Members Questions, but I hope that it will include his failure to provide adequate answers and allow discussion.";
Investigative journalist David Hencke has now written about this:

David Hencke: Blogger's victory safeguards public scrutiny


Barry Rochford said...

The sacking is more worrying.
Boris is prepared to risk the safety of Londoners more than 1000 strikes ever would.

AdamB said...

The sacking is more worrying obviously, but it's just one bad decision. Banning questions would stop scrutiny of all bad decisions made in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thank you AdamB for this post. It is good to see that there is someone that is prepared to stand up and tell the truth. Most of the media avoid making any comments at all, therefore the general public do not know what is going on inside the London Assembly. Keep up the good work.

AdamB said...

Thanks Anon.

greg tingey said...

Even the current rule of "Only one question" / "Questions limited to 15 minutes" etc strike me as very restrictive ....

AdamB said...

Yes he already reduced times for questions last year and ruled most questions out of order the last time I went.