Bertha Joseph, a Conservative councillor who recently lost an appeal against a six month suspension from her position on Brent council after she was accused of failing to properly declare cash gifts worth £900, has quit her post as deputy chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).
Mayor Boris Johnson had been under pressure to remove Joseph from the Authority after she lost her appeal last month. As recently as this week’s Mayor’s Question Time Mr Johnson was refusing to comment on calls for Joseph’s removal.
Ms Joseph’s departure comes just hours after a meeting of the Authority which passed the half-billion pound budget for the coming year.
City Hall’s full statement reads: “Bertha Joseph has offered her resignation from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and the Mayor has accepted it.
Councillor Joseph still disputes the complaint made against her but the Mayor believes the first tier tribunal made a compelling case against her continuing to serve on the authority.
The Mayor had allowed Ms Joseph two weeks to make her case to him, in the interests of natural justice and due process.
In the last hour, she has written to the Mayor to offer her resignation. As there are no more scheduled meetings of LFEPA until after the local elections and the authority is about to go into purdah, the Mayor will await the annual review of LFEPA membership in May before appointing a new member to the Board.”
A decision to ban filming by TV news crews of yesterday’s LFEPA meeting led to a walkout by Liberal Democrats on the Authority.
Caroline Pidgeon, who represents the part on the London Assembly, claimed “The Tories want to hide their shameful secret from the public that today’s Budget was passed due to the support of Councillor Joseph – someone who has been found guilty of serious wrongdoing and is unable to act as a councillor in her own borough.”
Len Duvall, Labour’s leader on the London Assembly, said: “It’s not the first time one of the mayor’s appointments has had to leave under a sleazy cloud but he could have done the right thing a lot sooner.”
Following the resignation Pidgeon commented: “Given that Cllr Joseph has been found guilty of serious wrongdoing and suspended from Brent Council, it shows poor judgement of the Mayor not to have sacked her straight away. The cynicism to wait until after the authority meeting reflects badly on the Mayor and the Conservatives in London.”