Boris Johnson appeared to confirm he was aware that placing Visit London into administration would threaten the pensions of workers.
The Mayor was responding to a question from Labour’s Len Duvall at this morning’s Mayor’s Question Time.
Visit London, the capital’s former promotional and tourism agency, was placed into administration on 1 April this year following the establishment of successor body London & Partners which merged the responsibilities of Visit London, Think London and Study London into a single body.
The merger followed the slashing of the Mayor’s development budget as part of Government spending cuts.
Although staff transferred from Visit London to London & Partners, the new body has not taken on the pension liabilities for them.
This resulted in Visit London going into administration since it did not have an estimated £7m needed to wind up the pension scheme.
Staff now find themselves potentially reliant on the Pension Protection Fund which pays compensation “where there are insufficient assets in the pension scheme.”
Asked whether he’d taken external advice before the decision to place Visit London into administration, the Mayor told Assembly Members he was advised by Sir Simon Milton over the best way forward.
Conservative AM Andrew Boff said that Visit London staff were effectively Greater London Authority employees and called on Johnson to remember his “moral duty” to them.
An uncomfortable looking Johnson expressed sorrow for any anxiety caused by the move and said he would be willing to look again at it pending the recommendations of the Assembly’s Economy, Culture and Sport Committee which is to investigate the situation.
AMs were also told that a number if small businesses had been left with unpaid debts after the agency’s collapse.