The London Assembly yesterday signaled its support for Mayor Johnson’s Forensic Audit Panel which is looking into financial controls at the LDA but questioned the way in which a £50,000 contract was awarded to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Assembly Members said they were concerned that PWC were awarded the contract without it being put out to tender as greater London Authority rules require and that the firm had started work before the Mayor approved their appointment.
Questioned by the London Assembly Budget Committee Patience Wheatcroft, Chair of the Forensic Audit Panel, described the £50,000 contract as “bargain”.
Committee Deputy Chair Mike Tuffrey said the Assembly “welcome the work of the Forensic Audit Panel” but added “the way the consultancy contract was awarded is rather unfortunate, given the nature of what the Panel is investigating, but we look forward to receiving a fair and balanced report.”
Speaking yesterday Labour’s John Biggs said said his group “welcome serious attempts to investigate what could have been done differently at the LDA and examine how processes could be improved”.
Mr Biggs claimed that “far from being authoritative, independent or objective, Patience Wheatcroft’s ‘audit panel’ is merely a hand-picked group of Conservative Party politicians and supporters.”
At yesterday’s meeting Wheatcroft denied the panel were acting with any political bias and that the panel was committed to producing an honest piece of work.