Transport for London bosses have been ordered by Mayor Boris Johnson to rewrite a controversial clause in their cable car sponsorship contract with Emirates airlines.
Earlier this week MayorWatch revealed that the contract banned TfL from selling or assigning the cable car to any person or company based in, or conducting the majority of their business in, Israel.
Emirates is ultimately owned by the UAE Government which doesn’t recognise Israel’s existence or have diplomatic or economic relations with the country.
News of the ban, agreed to by TfL in return for £36m of sponsorship cash to be paid over 10 years, prompted widespread criticism. It was also suggested that joining the UAE’s trade embargo against Israel could be a breach of UK and EU law.
City Hall sources say the Mayor was “furious” when he learned of the contract’s clauses following media reports.
The contract was signed on TfL’s behalf by subsidiary Docklands Light Railway Limited and had not been seen by the Mayor or City Hall officials.
Despite not being responsible for agreeing the contract’s terms, the Mayor declined to blame TfL officials when criticised for them by London Assembly members during today’s Mayor’s Question Time session.
On Tuesday TfL had attempted to defend the offending clauses as standard practice.
However following the Mayor’s intervention, the contract will now be rewritten to remove the prohibition on dealing with Israel nationals and businesses.
In a statement Danny Price, TfL’s cable car chief, said: “We have agreed with Emirates that this clause should be removed from the contract.
“The intention behind it was always to give them the option to withdraw their sponsorship should we sell the Emirates Air Line to someone else, something common in such contracts. We cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would sell.”
Asked to confirm the revised contract would be published, Mr Price said: “We will work on, and publish, alternative wording to express this in these simple terms.”
A spokesman for Emirates told the Evening Standard newspaper: “The clause was not intended to discriminate against any particular person, religion or country. Given the misinterpretation of this clause Emirates has agreed with TfL to remove it.”
Andrew Dismore, a Labour member of the London Assembly has written to the Mayor calling for him to “apologise to the 70,000 Israeli nationals living in this country and to the Israeli Government” and to check whether such clauses are commonplace in contracts between Emirates and its partners.