Ray Lewis’ resignation – another Boris blunder

July 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Posted in British Politics | 3 Comments
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This evening Ray Lewis resigned as Deputy Mayor after the recent allegations about financial irregularities, deception and sexual harassment. As is the vogue these days, he couched his statement in a language of martyrdom – only stepping down so the Mayoralty wouldn’t be distracted from its important  work – intended to maintain the veneer of innocence. What we all know, of course, is that completely innocent men rarely have to make such statements.

But regardless of whether he jumped or was pushed, or even whether or not all the allegations are true, there is one person who has the ultimate responsibility for this mess – the Mayor of London. Lewis was appointed amid great fanfare and glowing testimonials for his previous role working with disadvantaged kids in London’s roughest estates. As he was not a politician, nor a figure who had previously attracted much public scrutiny, you would think he’d been fully vetted by Boris Johnson’s staff to ensure they were hiring a man of integrity and ability. Apparently not. Today the Evening Standard reported that Lewis was never even subject to the most basic criminal records check.

The Evening Standard has learned his employment status at City Hall meant he was eligible for a criminal records bureau check – but one was not carried out because officials accepted that he had already been cleared for earlier employment.

Crucially, officials also declined to take the opportunity to request an “enhanced” check. That would have revealed details of his arrest over an allegation of deception. It would have potentially given the Mayor information about other concerns relating to Mr Lewis’s previous conduct.

Now, you could probably get away with appointing a career politician to such a role without needing a thorough vetting procedure. It’s risky, but possible. But to blindly appoint someone with a low public profile to one of the most senior roles in the country’s capital without ever doing the most bog-standard checking can only be classed as either arrogance or incompetence.

This isn’t the first controversy to have emerged during Mayor Johnson’s two months in office, but it is the most damaging and fits into a pre-existing narrative that Boris isn’t in full control of the city he’s elected to serve. Whilst he’s not yet a marked man in the media, from now on he will certainly face greater scrutiny of his performance. To prevent a Gordon Brown-like decline, he’s going to have to perform impeccably over the next few months.

Judging by the last two months, what are the chances that’s going to happen?

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3 Comments »

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  1. […] Update: 04/07/08 at 22:44: Ray Lewis has since resigned […]

  2. […] – Evening Standard, 4 July 2008 […]

  3. Boris need to stamp his authority as London Mayor and as a consequence there will be a few changes, such as people leaving. This simply tells me that something is being done and we all have to wait to see whether it is for the better or worse. The man is entitled to the time required to make his difference.


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