Boris Johnson’s administration is facing a second crisis after Johnson’s youth advisor Ray Lewis became the target of allegations of harassment and claims that he was barred from working for the Church of England after claims of financial misconduct.
Lewis was the first major appointment of Johnson’s tenure and was given the honourific job title of ‘Deputy Mayor’.
This afternoon Johnson and Lewis have denied the claims which a City Hall statement described as “malicious allegations”.
Defending advisor Mayor Johnson said: “When I entered the contest to become Mayor of London there was one man who gave me hope and who gave me inspiration. There was one man who not only understood the problems faced by children in the deprived parts of this city, but was willing to dedicate himself, day after day, to turning their lives around.”
Announcing he would launch an independent inquiry into the allegations the Mayor claimed Lewis was ” being made to suffer now because he has had the guts to serve in this administration and because he has had the courage to speak out against a stifling orthodoxy that has failed too many of our children.”
Johnson dismissed the allegations saying they ” did not stop him from becoming a JP. They did not stop him from becoming an outstanding and respected prison governor. They did not stop him founding a school that has done untold good for East London children and they should not stop him from serving as my deputy Mayor.”
Mr Lewis, who was last week accused of not responding to emails and letters, said he had “never harassed anyone. I have never defrauded anyone. I have never knowingly done anything that would be inconsistent with my position as a Justice of the Peace, as the founder and Director of a charity, or as someone given the awesome responsibility of caring for young children.”
Lewis said he was “happy to face questioning and investigation on all these charges.”
Parties on the London Assembly have called on Mayor Johnson to suspend Lewis pending the outcome of the Mayor’s investigations.
Green Party AM Jenny Jones said “It is clear that the Mayor was unaware of any of these allegations when he appointed Mr Lewis as his Deputy Mayor. It therefore seems sensible that the Mayor should suspend Ray Lewis whilst the independent investigation is carried out, as happens in many organisations. Being suspended does not imply any guilt, nor leave any stain on his character if the allegations are proved unfounded. ”
Labour’s John Biggs said: “Boris Johnson set great store on his deputy mayor’s abilities, elevating him to almost saint-like status. Unfortunately he has now become the story rather than the solution and is distracted from the innovative work with youngsters he was employed to do.”
“Given the seriousness nature and sheer number of the allegations against Mr Lewis, it seems remarkable that he has not been suspended while they are investigated. Having delegated so many powers to his advisers, Londoners need to have faith in Boris Johnson’s team and his judgement.”
During the election campaign Johnson made allegations against Ken Livingstone’s administration a key plank of his campaign.