‘Deputy Mayor’ Ian Clement resigns

cityhall_closeIan Clement, Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor for Government and External Relations, has resigned after “the discovery of further discrepancies in the use of his corporate credit card”.

Last week Johnson was forced to endure an embarrassing cross examination on Clement’s use of the taxpayer funded card for personal purchases. The issue is all the more humiliating for the Mayor given his track record in availing himself of every opportunity to repeat accusations of wrongdoing or slack procedures during his predecessor’s term of office.

The misuse of the card was first revealed by the Guardian newspaper earlier this month. On Tuesday City Hall published full details of the unauthorised expenditure but was keen to point out Clement always repaid the costs of the items and made no personal gain from the transactions.

During Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time Johnson attempted to distance himself from the unsanctioned use of the card and volunteered Clement to appear before the Assembly to account for his actions.

This afternoon Johnson’s office released a short statement: “Ian Clement, Deputy Mayor for Government and External Relations, has resigned from the Greater London Authority (GLA) with immediate effect. He tendered his resignation to the Mayor of London this morning following the discovery of further discrepancies in the use of his corporate credit card. The Mayor has accepted Mr Clement’s resignation. His position will be filled in due course.”

City Hall has released Clement’s resignation letter and the Mayor’s response:

City Hall has released the text of Clement’s resignation letter and the Mayor’s response:

Dear Boris,

Having considered my position over the weekend and in light of our conversation this morning I am formally tendering my resignation as Deputy Mayor for Government and External Relations.

It has been a pleasure to work for you and I am sorry that I have let you down and deflected away from the excellent work you and indeed your team are doing in delivering for Londoners.

Best Wishes
Ian Clement

Dear Ian,

Thank you for your letter of resignation, which I accept with immediate effect.

As you know, I was extremely angry at the liberties you took with your corporate credit card; but last week I made the essential distinction between behaviour that is crass and anything that amounts to dishonesty or deception.  In the light of the further discrepancies in your expenses that have emerged this morning, it is clear to both of us that your position is untenable.

Thank you for all your hard work in the year you have spent here.  You played a major part in helping to extend the Freedom Pass for 24 hours across London, and in pioneering Open London, and in launching the City Charter.

Best wishes,

Yours ever,
Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

In the past few days it has been increasingly difficult to find anyone within Johnson’s administration who expected Clement to remain in post. Senior figures have been openly briefing that his days were numbered given the depth of Johnson’s embarrassment over the incident.

Despite the ‘deputy mayor’ title, Clement’s true position within City Hall was that of salaried staff member. The 1999 Greater London Authority Act allows the Mayor to appoint a maximum of 12 staff to deliver his policies for London – referred to as ‘section 67 appointments’ after the enabling clause of the Act.

In what was widely seen as an attempt to confuse Londoners as to the true nature of those he delegated his powers to, Johnson opted to grant a number of staff members the “bauble” title of deputy mayor.

The departure of Clement follows the resignations of Deputy Chief of Staff James McGrath and ‘deputy mayor’ Ray Lewis. The departure of Lewis highlighted the folly of granting such a misunderstood title, with articles in both the UK and international press referring to the ‘deputy mayor of London’.

Johnson has also had to endure the resignation of ‘first deputy mayor’ Time Parker who resigned after it was decided he would not chair Transport for London. At the time Parker said: “…it would not be appropriate for an unelected official to chair a body which is responsible for most of the money and a large part of the brief of an elected Mayor. I also agree with the Mayor that my position as adviser does not justify my full time and exclusive commitment to the Greater London Authority, or the title of First Deputy Mayor. We have therefore decided to adjust the management structure and abolish that position.”

Responding to Clement’s departure, Jennette Arnold AM, Chair of the London Assembly Business Management and Administration Committee (BMAC) said: “Ian Clement’s repeated misuse of his City Hall credit card was clearly a serious breach of Greater London Authority rules for which he has answered with his job.”

“However, Mr Clement’s resignation cannot be considered an end to the matter. Serious questions remain about how long the misuse of the card continued, apparently undetected, and the type of expenditure that was charged to the GLA without being repaid. These issues will be pursued by Assembly Members at Wednesday’s meeting of BMAC, where we will question the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Sir Simon Milton and GLA Executive Director of Resources Martin Clarke.”

Mike Tuffrey, the leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said today’s departure “was inevitable”. Tuffrey also said the Mayor had “three fundamental questions” he must answer:

“Firstly, over a period of nine months Ian Clement repeatedly broke City Hall rules about personal spending. Why did Boris Johnson allow this to take place?”

“Secondly, is Boris Johnson still allowing his senior staff to bill taxpayers for taking each other out to lunch and dinner?”

“Thirdly, will Boris Johnson now agree to publish the full expense details of all of his senior staff? Only this step will allow the public to judge what type of regime the Mayor is really running at City Hall.”