As we now know, Transport for London boss Sir Peter Hendy likes to treat his well-paid colleagues, suppliers and even the odd politician to a decent meal and a bottle or two of wine.
The organisation has always been keen to defend the legitimacy of Sir Peter’s expenses and stresses that he only claims them in the course of his official work, its boilerplate statement reading:
Sir Peter Hendy is overseeing the delivery of a ten-year multi-billion pound budget to manage transport in London, and also deliver Crossrail and the upgrade of the Tube.
He travels to and from work by public transport and uses public transport when travelling in the Capital on business.
There are occasions when his full schedule necessitates the use of taxis, working late into the evening and sometimes hosting dinners with stakeholders.
Some, but not all, of the expenses incurred are claimed.
All fair enough, but we should hope that Sir Peter has read and taken note of the organisation’s own Alcohol at Work Policy which includes the following warnings:
the consumption of alcohol even in small quantities will adversely affect safety, performance, conduct or efficiency
it is an employees responsibility not to come to work if they are under the influence of alcohol. The consumption of alcohol prior to commencing work, whilst at work or during meal/rest breaks in the working day, including meal/rest breaks spent outside TfL/operational premises or when on call, is strictly prohibited and may result in disciplinary action.
it is recognised that employees may be required to attend functions on behalf of TfL where alcohol is being served. At such functions employees are permitted to consume a reasonable amount of alcohol. Employees should be mindful of their level of alcohol consumption and are reminded that when representing TfL a high level of conduct and professionalism is expected and that all employment policies and procedures apply.
You don’t have to be much of a puritan to think that a couple of bottles of wine at a meal at which only two people are present is more than a “small” quantity and may even slip beyond the definition of a “reasonable amount”.
TfL has yet to confirm whether the policy applies to Sir Peter and other chief officers, or whether those with responsibility for the network’s continued operation during a security or safety incident are deemed to be “on call”.
But even if TfL’s boss class operates under a different set of rules, are they somehow less susceptible to the effects of alcohol?
Do they possess some special quality that means the consumption of generous amounts of booze during a meeting will not “adversely affect” their “performance, conduct or efficiency”?
And if so is this the result of their inherent natural superiority over we mere mortals – possibly justifying their huge salaries and bonuses – or simply the culmination of years of practice around (sometimes women free) dinner tables?