Boris Johnson has courted fresh claims of cronyism over his appointment of Telegraph columnist and staunch supporter Andrew Gilligan as cycling czar.
Followers of the 2012 mayoral election circus may remember that Gilligan was responsible for the 'tax avoidance' exposé which is said to have contributed to Ken Livingstone's failure to be re-elected. Gilligan's 2008 allegations of Livingstone's cronyism at the London Development Agency (oh, the irony) also damaged the former mayor's campaign.
The mayor certainly couldn't be accused of backing away from controversial appointments — in December last year he appointed Gerard Lyons as part-time economic advisor despite the fact that Kit Malthouse was already deputy mayor for business and enterprise. Another Johnson supporter, former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley was also given an advisory role. Ray Lewis, previously the subject of an inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct before resigning in disgrace, was brought back as a mentor for boys from troubled backgrounds. And his part-time salaries are, shall we say, particularly generous — Lewis is on £20K for a one day week, Lyons trousers £127K for under 30 hours a week and Wadley is on £95K pro-rata so we can probably assume that Gilligan will be no less well paid.
As with the mayor's other advisory appointments, Gilligan's role will be part time and he'll continue to write for the Telegraph, though not in his former capacity as London Editor or on the subject of City Hall. Gilligan has a long history of championing the cause of cycling in the capital (despite calling the superhighway 'pointless'), campaigning for segregated cycle lanes back in 2007.
Obviously, Gilligan disputes allegations of cronyism over his appointment which aren't at all like his allegations of cronyism against Ken Livingstone, but then he would. Mayorwatch also Tweeted the observation that City Hall is packed with impartial civil servants and the 10+2 system allows them to appoint personal advisors. A City Hall spokesman said:
"It has always been the mayor's intention to appoint a cycling commissioner."
London Assembly Labour leader Len Duvall said:
"Boris's arrogance apparently knows no bounds. He is going to appoint someone with no experience of making transport or cycling policy to a senior paid position at City Hall. What is even more concerning is that Boris has now given well paid positions to two people who helped him get elected in 2008 – Veronica Wadley and Andrew Gilligan."
Photo by ace_jace in the Londonist Flickr pool.