Mayor of London Boris Johnson has asked London Development Agency Chair Mary Reilly and Chief Executive Manny Lewis to step down from their roles and has nominated Harvey McGrath as Interim Chair and recommended Peter Rogers as Interim Chief Executive.
Speaking earlier today Mayor Johnson said: “I was elected on a very clear mandate of providing value for money for London taxpayers. It starts here with the London Development Agency.”
Describing his chosen replacements at the LDA the Mayor said ”Harvey McGrath has served as vice chair of the new London Skills and Employment Board since its inception and is a prominent figure in the capital’s business community. He has unrivalled knowledge of business and of skills and employability issues in London. He is supremely qualified to get the most out of this vital London organisation.”
“Peter Rogers has a proven track record of delivering in Westminster and his experience in reducing costs and implementing transparency is exactly what the LDA needs to start delivering for taxpayers with immediate effect.”
Permanent holders of both roles will be appointed after an open recruitment process.
The move comes on the same day Mayor Johnson announced that a ‘forensic’ audit team headed by Patience Wheatcroft will investigate the use of taxpayer’s money at the LDA and by the Greater London Authority.
Ms Wheatcroft is a former editor of The Sunday Telegraph and currently Non Executive Director of Barclays PLC and Shaftesbury PLC. She will be joined by Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Patrick Frederick, Chief Executive of Aimex International, Edward Lister, Leader of Wandsworth Council and Andrew Gordon, Head of Investigations within the Forensic Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers who will act as Independent Expert.
The review of the LDA will focus on recent allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the awarding of grants as well as detecting conflicts of interest and the monitoring of grant recipients’ performance in delivering what they promised. The panel suggest new processes to guarantee probity and value for money.
The review of the GLA will focus publicity and advertising expenditure, use of external consultants and agency staff and any area where expenditure has grown since 2004.
The Mayor has also asked the panel to recommend areas where savings can be made without compromising performance.
According to the Mayor’s office the Panel will present initial findings and a progress report to the Mayor within 30 days and a final report within 60 days.
Mr Johnson said Wheatcroft would be “fearless and dogged in pursuit of the truth about recent practices at the LDA.”
In a statement issued by the Mayor’s office Ms Wheatcroft said she was “honoured to serve the new Mayor on this important initiative and am delighted that our Panel will be able to call on the expertise of Andrew Gordon, one of the country’s leading forensic accountants. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that the LDA and GLA deliver value for money to the taxpayers of London.”