Time for Action (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
November 16, 2011
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

You might not like my line of questioning either. I would like to look at the role of Ray Lewis, your mentoring champion, and the award of the £1.3 million grant aid to a consortium. Are you concerned that Ray Lewis has made no general declaration of interest but nor, indeed, when he took part in the process of the award of the grant aid, did he do any specific declarations of interest in awarding this quite important contract? I should declare that I am a supporter of this work before you start to wallow around for answers here.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Time for Action (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Time for Action (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The answer is I can't give you chapter and verse on what Ray declared or did not declare. I am happy to supply you with details afterwards. I am content that the award of that particular contract was done properly and that the mentoring programme is, again, the right way to go. I know that there is a great deal of --

Len Duvall (AM): Mr Mayor, I am going to ask you some other questions but we will stay with the declarations of Mr Lewis. In your letter of appointment in September 2010 - and I can help you - there is no publication of any general declaration of interest. We were told by GLA officials and your adviser that no declaration was made during the process outlined in your Mayoral Decision Form 856. Are you aware there were concerns raised about perceived conflicts of interest of Mr Lewis back in 2010? You signed a letter highlighting one of those issues of conflict but there were further issues raised by your advisers and officials around the period of April and May this year, prior to the process? Are you aware of those concerns?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am not aware of any conflicts of interest that Mr Lewis has. No, I am not aware of any there might be.

Len Duvall (AM): Are you aware that no declarations were made? Is that not in your briefing note?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think that is correct; no declarations were made.

Len Duvall (AM): Sorry, can I just hear that again?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I believe that that is correct --

Len Duvall (AM): You think that is correct.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If you will forgive me, as I said right at the beginning, I am more than happy to get back to you on exactly what declarations Ray made but, as I said to you, I do not believe there is any conflict and I do not believe he had any interests at stake in the matter.

Len Duvall (AM): I do not understand. From 2010 in your letter it is quite clear you requested him to complete a register of interest form and to notify you immediately of any changes or any potential conflicts of interest by virtue of taking the role --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes.

Len Duvall (AM): Why then, from 2010 generally to specifically during this contract period, was no action taken to get a declaration of interest? As of this morning I checked to see if there was a declaration; there is none. There are other declarations --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): What is the declaration that you want to be made?

Len Duvall (AM): There is a general declaration that you have asked in your letter appointing him to the issue, a register of interest form, which we all sign up to and your other advisers sign up to, and you asked him to. That was your request/instruction to him as part of that. That has not been done and, despite there being a part in the process to declare declarations, there were no specific declarations by Mr Ray Lewis about knowledge of anyone who was bidding for this large sum - £1.3 million.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Are you saying that Ray was going to get the money?

Len Duvall (AM): No.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Then what are you saying?

Len Duvall (AM): I am saying why did your officials chooose to do nothing in making sure that the actions that you put in your letter and issues that you raised back in 2010, and in terms of his participation in this process in the award of this grant aid, no action was taken on these issues, despite your officials and your advisers on the eighth floor raising issues around potential issues of conflict. Why was no action taken by this Authority over declarations of interest?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): All I can say to you, Len, is I am not certain which interest you think it would have been right to declare. One of the issues that has come up is I am the Patron of the London Action Trust and I therefore had a conflict of interest in this matter. I really think that is something --

Len Duvall (AM): I am not asking that, Mr Mayor, you can be rest assured, but no doubt you were worried by it.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If you think there is something murky or dodgy about the award of this contract or if you think that Ray Lewis or anybody is standing to gain from this in a financial way then why don't you come out with it and say it? It is complete nonsense that you don't have the guts --

Len Duvall (AM): As you know, I have raised issues and there are a number of concerns about this process of the award of this contract. A number of journalists have raised issues around the process as well.

Now, Mr Mayor, in terms of declarations of interest, to be very clear about this and why this is important, as of yesterday there is a new Localism Bill. If this was done some months ago Ray Lewis might well be finding himself with a criminal conviction and a fine about the declarations and risk disqualification. That is why I raise these points, Mr Mayor. You might trivialise them. That is why I am raising them --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am not trivialising them. I am simply trying to find out what you are trying to allege. I am trying to get to the bottom of your murky attempts --

Len Duvall (AM): If you listen carefully and you concentrate, Mr Mayor --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- to cast a pall of suspicion in asking to --

Len Duvall (AM): -- it would help us in your answering this question.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- expand mentoring in London. I do now know why you are doing it.

Len Duvall (AM): Mr Mayor, in your letter of appointment of Mr Lewis that you signed, tell me why Mr Lewis should not have any role in participating in decision making within the GLA?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Ray is not a paid official in the GLA. He receives no public funds. He does a fantastic job as my mentoring champion. I support him. I support his ideas. I think he is OK. As many of us have, he has gone through choppy water in the past. That does not mean he does not have a fantastic amount to contribute to London and you began your remarks by saying that you were a supporter of his work didn't you, Len?

Len Duvall (AM): A supporter of this scheme. Mr Mayor, in your letter you specifically raise that his role has no decision making or budgetary responsibility. We are clear there is no budgetary responsibility. You clearly thought it was important to put it in the letter of appointment. If that is the case why was he allowed to participate in a decision making process which contributed to your Mayoral Decision Form, MD856? Why was he allowed to participate?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I understand it he did not participate in the decision, as I remember it.

Len Duvall (AM): Are you concerned about the performance of a consortium led by the University of East London that won the award and about its fellow consortium of partners that seem to be falling off it? Are you concerned? When you signed off your Mayoral Decision Form did you ask any questions relating to the process and the information put before you to sign it off?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): For the benefit of people not on the moonscape of conspiracy theories and who want to talk about what is going on on planet earth, what we were trying to do was award a --

Len Duvall (AM): Sorry, I have asked a very simple question.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- contract for a mentoring programme. There were a number of candidates --

Jennette Arnold (Chair): Mr Mayor, are you able to give the Member a short answer? If not, can we move on?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. There were a number of candidates. One in particular I understand had a lot to be said for it. The trouble was that financial due diligence revealed a lot of problems with it. I am mindful, as Mayor, of the history in this body - we are not a delivery body here, Len, and, frankly, you have to be very careful how you administer public funds. £1.3 million is a lot to grant. If you look back at the history of the London Development Agency (LDA) and the bodies on which John served under the previous administration it was not brilliant. Huge sums of public money were basically fired out without proper due diligence. On inspection, I am given to understand that one of the consortia did not come up to snuff in terms of its solvency and that was a material consideration.