As he lost the second senior advisor in just two weeks Boris Johnson admitted this evening that he was “misled” by former ‘deputy’ Ray Lewis.
Just last month Mayor Johnson accepted the resignation of political advisor James McGrath after the publication of comments both insist were taken out of context.
Tonight, just 24 hours after extending his unqualified support, Johnson had to admit he had been “misled” by Lewis’s claims to have been a Justice of the Peace, a position Johnson had cited as part of his defence of Lewis in the wake of allegations of financial misconduct.
Denying the claims made against him Lewis said he had “ever knowingly done anything that would be inconsistent with my position as a Justice of the Peace”.
Tonight as it emerged that Lewis had never been appointed as a JP he said he had “passed all the interviews for it. I’ve had a letter confirming that I have been recommended for appointment to the board.”
Despite Lewis claiming the distinction between him being recommended and appointed mattered only to “fully paid up members of the ‘hair splitters’ convention” the position was cited both in his official biography on the City Hall website and the press release issued on May 5th which states:
“After working at HM Prison Woodhill, Milton Keynes, Ray became Executive Director of Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy in 2001. He is also a Trustee and Governor of the Petchey Academy in Hackney and a Justice of the Peace.”
This latest revelation led to Johnson’s reluctant admission that he had been “misled”, an act which he said had “shaken” his confidence in his advisor adding “I cannot deny that to be misled on this issue has made it harder for me to give Ray the backing necessary to continue in his role as Deputy Mayor”.
Only last night Johnson refused to suspend Lewis despite calls from opposition parties on the London Assembly and claimed Lewis was “being made to suffer now because he has had the guts to serve in this administration.”
Since being appointed Lewis has been seen beside Johnson at a number of high profile events including the annual State of London Debate. At that event at least two members of the audience claimed Lewis had failed to respond to their communications, a claim he failed to deny commenting only that “I do what I can when I can”.
Despite a number of press releases suggesting otherwise Lewis is not and has never been the ‘Deputy Mayor of London’, he was an employee of the Greater London Authority appointed under Section 67 of the 1999 Greater London Authority Act which permits the Mayor to make a maximum of 10 appointments to the GLA’s staff.
By law there can only be a single Deputy Mayor who must be drawn from the London Assembly and the legally recognised Deputy Mayor is the respected Assembly Member Richard Barnes who is unconnected to the claims against Lewis.
Johnson’s fledging administration took a conscious decision to ignore warnings that handing out versions of the title to his advisors would cause confusion.
In the wake of 24 hours of worldwide media references to ‘Boris’s deputy’ and the ‘Deputy Mayor of London’ it’s likely some within City Hall will be regretting the decision to hand out what the Mayor later conceded are merely honourific titles.
Questioned on a number of oaccassions Johnson has often appeared unaware of the decisions being taken in his name by his so-called ‘deputies’.