Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking the Nolan rules on political interference in public appointments after it emerged he recommended former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley as London Arts Council Chair despite the objections from two of the three members of the selection panel.
According to a report in today’s Times, two of the three person selection panel considered Wadley as “manifestly the least qualified” candidate and opted not to put her forward to the next stage of the selection process. The paper says Johnson ignored their advice and put her name forward anyway.
That move prompted panel member and Arts Council Chairwoman Liz Forgan to write to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Liz Forgan stating: “we are left with a due process that was not followed, a candidate who was manifestly less qualified than three of her competitors and three distinguished candidates put through a process that seems to have had questionable validity. My conclusion is that the Mayor’s intended appointment was based on reasons other than the selection of the best candidate for the job.”
The appointment has reportedly been blocked by the Government on the grounds that the process breached the Nolan rules.
London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said he would be “extremely concerned if the mayor was not following transparent criteria for appointments.”
“This London Mayor has only been in office a year and a half, yet we have had an extraordinary series of scandals and mistakes. An independent report commissioned by the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority admonished the Mayor for his “extraordinary and unwise” behaviour when Damien Green MP was arrested. The rushed nature of his appointments of deputy Mayor’s certainly contributed to the subsequent loss of some of them. Finally, another deputy mayor had to resign after he was able to falsify his expenses over a period of several months.”
According to the Times, a spokesman for the Mayor defended the nomination, describing Wadley as “one of the very few women in the UK who has edited a serious newspaper. She knows London intimately and is a highly-qualified, award-winning editor with serious and grown-up arts coverage.”