Boris Johnson’s campaign have been forced to withdraw an advanced press notice which implied that Brian Cooke, Chairman of the London Assembly funded complaints body London TravelWatch would be supporting Mr Johnson’s transport manifesto when it is launched next week.
As head of a politically independent body Mr Cooke’s presence at the launch of a party manifesto could be seen as controversial and any suggestion of political bias deeply embarrassing for both him and London TravelWatch.
When asked what capacity Mr Cooke would be appearing in a spokesman for the Johnson campaign was initially unable to answer, advising us to: “either contact Brian directly, or wait until he speaks on Monday. For the moment I can only really confirm that he has accepted Boris’s invitation to talk about London’s transport system at the launch.”
A London TravelWatch spokesperson later told MayorWatch: “We have had discussions with the Boris Johnson campaign team and Brian will be attending the manifesto launch, but as a representative of transport users, and is not endorsing the candidate.”
“He will be re-iterating that London TravelWatch is non-political and non-partisan in the mayoral race. This is not an endorsement of anyone’s campaign, but a chance for transport users to be represented.”
“There was a mis-understanding about what the actual event entailed, and the original operational note implied that Mr Cooke was part of the campaign. A new operational note will be sent out clarifying this.”
A spokesman for the Johnson campaign has said there has been: “a misunderstanding which has now been cleared up” adding “Brian will be attending in an impartial capacity as was always intended.”