Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor for Policing hasn’t had an easy time of his first six months in office. After pissing the London Assembly off on several occasions – by not being properly briefed, telling the Met Commissioner not to come to official sessions and blocking the Assembly’s scrutiny access to the police – he’s now accused of sexually harassing a female colleague.
What seems to have happened is that around a month ago, Greenhalgh and the young woman were in a City Hall lift when the Deputy Mayor inappropriately touched her bottom. No formal complaint was made, but the woman later told a colleague about the incident. Greenhalgh yesterday issued a statement and apology:
I have no recollection of this event and I understand no complaint had been made. Nonetheless I would like to apologise unreservedly for anything that could be or may have been construed as inappropriate behaviour on my part.
An investigation has been launched at City Hall. The Evening Standard went to last night’s People’s Question Time and asked Boris Johnson whether Greenhalgh would be suspended during the investigation, if he should be sacked following his “unreserved” apology (a sideways admission of guilt?) and whether he was still capable of doing his job properly. Given that his job is overseeing the police, and that sexual assault is a crime (the Met’s own Sapphire unit defines sexual assault as “intentionally touch[ing] another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent”), there would seem to be a problem here.
ITV spoke to Len Duvall (Labour) and Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) Assembly Members, both of whom are questioning Greenhalgh’s fitness to be in post. You might expect that from members of the opposition but, in a sign of just how few friends Greenhalgh has on London’s political scene, former Tory Assembly member Brian Coleman (currently suspended by the Conservatives as he awaits trial for assault) found time to stick the knife in further.