Friday, December 14, 2007

Waters of Cronyism Lap At Livingstone's Feet

THIS story from yesterday's Evening Standard shows why Lee Jasper needs to be fired by Ken Livingstone. Jasper seems to think London is like Chicago in the 1960s, with Livingstone playing the role of Mayor Daley and Jasper his chief henchman. This is London in 2007 and Londoners should not have to put up with the kind of cronyism and alleged corruption outlined in the story. In the end, the buck stops with Livingstone. If he is not able to control Lee Jasper then the GLA should use whatever powers it has to launch a full scale inquiry into what has gone on. It's worth reading the full story, but here are the basics...
Leaked emails show that the chief executive of his London Development Agency
expressed "the deepest possible concern" about a £345,000 grant to a close friend of the Mayor's senior aide, Lee Jasper.
• The emails - obtained by the Standard - show that Mr Jasper's friend, Joel O'Loughlin, grossly overcharged, deceived the LDA and failed to provide any of the services he promised.
• The LDA chief executive, Manny Lewis, wanted to sack Mr O'Loughlin, claw back all the LDA's money and even talked about suing him.
• But within days, after Mr O'Loughlin contacted Mr Jasper, the LDA performed a 180-degree turn, offering Mr O'Loughlin another £250,000 and a lucrative consultancy.
• Two senior LDA managers who vehemently protested against this deal - one calling it "extortionate" and "against the interests of the GLA" - were subsequently sacked. The emails show that Mr Jasper played the decisive role in one of the sackings.
• The emails undermine claims by the Mayor that our story last week - that £2.5million has been paid to organisations controlled by Mr Jasper's friends and business associates - was a "tissue of lies" and that there was a "full audit trail" on all the projects we mentioned, including one called Diversity International.
• London Assembly member Richard Barnes said: "These emails bring [a] cover-up right to the Mayor's feet."
• The emails raise serious questions over how much the Mayor knew as they were copied to senior members of his office including Redmond O'Neill, director of public affairs.
• The emails make clear Mr Jasper's day-to-day involvement in the LDA's work and the extraordinary influence he exerted over it.

20 comments:

Rob said...

and whats Kens answer to all of this .. ignores the facts and calls for Gilligan to be sacked!

http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=14914

Chuck Unsworth said...

Boris should be all over this one like a nasty rash - but he's been pretty quiet so far. The Standard has run Gilligan's stories for several days now, but Ken and his Krazy Kronies have stonewalled all the way.

Livingstone, as usual, attacks the man rather than expresses any concern that the story might have some truth - and does so immediately, without even bothering to investigate the facts.

What has he got to hide, then? Like all NuLab Loonies they've gone to ground now.

What's needed is full independent scrutiny and audit. Any chance that Livingstone might do this before the 'evidence' has been neatly 're-arranged'? Thought not.

Worse than this, the reaction of those who might be fingered is to pull the old racialism card - never mind that all the ratepayers are being defrauded. And they sack those who, within the organisation, are doing their jobs conscientiously and raising serious concerns.

These people are amoral scum. Tammany Hall or what?

Anonymous said...

and where's Boris? Filming? This sort of stuff is he best chance of beating Ken and he's nowhere...

Charles said...

No newspaper other than the standard has touched this story. Why?!

Seriously - it hasn't even been mentioned in the Telegraph, Times or Independent. The Guardian has carried one miniscule story by the press correspondant and an inaccurate story by Roy Greenslade, which Andrew Gilligan posted an entertaining comment beneath.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/greenslade/2007/12/expect_a_nasty_end_to_the_batt.html

Why the press blackout?

It is fear of libel? Or is the story seen as too niche.

I mean, just check out the Telegraph's front page today. Binge drinking - again. This could be the scoop of the year (or No2, behind the Mail on Sunday's Abrahams story).

Chris Paul said...

This is the Standard Iain, and it is Gilligan.

Ken and the LDA have each responded with very strong rebuttals and you would do well to at least acknowledge that fact. Rather than ignoring the facts as suggested by your commenters they point out the areas of zero evidence and rebut the main charges.

They even observe Lee Jasper counselling against the grant to the org in Liverpool which Gilligan says he forced through.

Point well made by Charles re other papers not covering this. Gilligan riding for a fall. Wouldn't be surprised if there's a book deal lurking somewhere here.

John M Ward said...

Well, I've posted something that links to the original article, on my newly-created blog, so hopefully we between us can raise awareness.

I do agree that Boris needs to get stuck in to this whole business. Hopefully he is researching as much additional factual material as possible before going public, and will thus be able to make an authoritative splash soon -- it's probably what I'd be doing if I were in that position.

SoupOfTheDay said...

Charles wrote: 'No newspaper other than the standard has touched this story. Why?!'

Because they can no doubt see the considerable flaws in it. It's been days of hysterical coverage in the Standard but their original claims - such as that a development agency was intimidated by threats of black gang violence - have never been substantiated.

Iain repeats the Standard expose yesterday, but not Livingstone's comprehensive demolition of it here:
http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=14914

and here:
http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=14915

These show that the "£250k" was not paid to this company at all, that Lee Jasper actually opposed this organisation getting a contract, and that Gilligan's claim that it was a liquidator who blocked payment to the organisation is also false.

The Standard is up to its old tricks again.

Charles said...

@soupoftheday

Gilligan never claimed the £250k had been paid. He says that Livingstone is pulling the "old politicians trick" of denying something that has never been claimed.

See Greenslade's article in the Guardian, and read the comments for Gilligan's explanation.

Anonymous said...

I read this very carefully on the train in the Standard the other night - it's all innuendo, there are no firm facts and no smoking guns. I think the big papers are ignoring it because it's all just part of the usual Livingston-bashing in the Standard and they need something more than mere finger pointing.

Anonymous said...

If you read the 'secret' emails in full, it is clear that Lee Jasper didn't want to award the contract to his (supposed) mate's company in the first place. The article in last night's Standard misrepresented Lee Jasper by only printing extracts of his emails to try to substantiate the story. I tried to comment to this effect on the Standard's website, but my comment was not published.

GLA Spokesperson said...

In an attempt to prove his allegations of a “mayor aide scandal” Andrew Gilligan totally misrepresents an email from Lee Jasper in Thursday's Evening Standard.

The full email (available here: http://www.london.gov.uk/news/email-lj.pdf) shows that far from Mr Jasper supporting the organisation, the exact opposite is true – that Mr Jasper in fact expressed doubts about giving this organisation a contract. He stated: 'I am also reminded that I expressed very real doubts about the LDA procurring DI at the point of the confact being agreed - expressed by myself and GLA officers repeatedly once we were aware of the LDA's decision to give this contract to DI. Our clear reccomendation to the LDA was too ensure effective confact management.'

To see more of the facts behind the Standard's mistruths and falsehoods go to: http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=14914

Chuck Unsworth said...

So, if Gilligan has got it all round his ears and is seriously wrong, why has Ken not got the lawyers on to this?

Surely Ken would love to nail The Standard (and Gilligan) to the wall?

Are his suporters here saying that Ken has already had this whole series of stories checked out by independent authorities and is therefore fireproof? Well that may be so, but it doesn't say much when he chooses to use his PR machine to gainsay rather than just slapping a Court Order on the Standard.

Maybe he's going for broke though, and just wants to have his day in the High Court winning his case and damages for Libel. Now there's an interesting prospect.

Anonymous said...

If there is any truth in this, then it is a matter for the Police.

In fiction, a gallant journalist (Tintin for example) solves crimes. Then hands over the villians to the Police. In this case, Gilligan should very publicly hand over the file to the Police and then publicly follow their investigation.

On a personal basis I've no doubt that Ken is as corrupt as they come and as guilty as sin. But the longer these allegations stay OUT of the Police's hands, the worse the situation gets as it simply becomes a 'did he, didn't he' match.

Incidentally, last time I checked Boris wasn't a Policeman either. How about him firmly demanding a Met investigation, otherwise he looks indecisive?

Anonymous said...

Another job for Yates of The Yard.
I only hope he gets the pay rise as the guy's overworked with so much corruption going on.

Praguetory said...

Labour's new strategy - overwhelm the media with sleaze.

Anonymous said...

Two words:
Banana & Republic

bebopper said...

Glad you've mentioned this Iain, although rather late in the day.
I'm puzzled, like others, why the MSM is avoiding this story.
Do they know something we don't?
The whole thing is redolent of Tom Wolfe's essay: "Mau Mau-ing the Flak-Catcher, where he describes black "community leaders" demanding money for "black projects" and crying racism at hapless City Hall flak-catchers till they cave in and throw money at them.
I would like to know why this story is being ignored by the MSM.
Political correctness? They should at least report that allegations have been made.

andrew gilligan said...

Once again, Ken and his PRs simply aren't denying anything we have actually reported. Namely:

- that the chief executive of the LDA expressed "the deepest possible concern" about a £345,000 payment to one of Lee Jasper's friends.

- that the LDA wanted to sack him and take back the money, but ended up doing a 180-degree turn and offering him an extra 250k after he lobbied Lee Jasper.

- that two members of the LDA management who raised concerns about the deal were sacked.

Instead they are denying a whole series of claims we never actually made. The story makes quite clear that the 250k was never in the end paid - it was a bridge too far even for Ken Livingstone's LDA.

I am sorry to see that taxpayers' money is being used for GLA press officers to spread lies in this way.

And I might add that the Jasper story has been widely followed: it has led the BBC's London news twice, featured three times on the ITV news, and also been covered by the Times and the Mail.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Iain,

Time to rid ourselves of the corrupt GLA?

jonnieofbrixton said...

.....please indulge me in full...
Memo to ken liarstone,captain of the ill fated 'Titanic gla',stop right now saying the words 'racist' and 'black community' in the context of 'chief burser jasper',its insulting and yet again patronising,get this into your head and grab a life jacket,lee jasper does not represent the black community,given a job by you,he has failed on every level,and when will he come on the radio and say something?..quick! abandon ship ,the iceberg has hit,oops,May 2nd,floating in the wilderness of public life ,ken liarstone mutters to anyone listening,'this outrage never happened to Castro or Chavez,what ever happened to democracy?...pssst...wanna buy the big issue guv?...
http://jonnieofbrixton.blogspot.com/
still jonnie of brixton xxx