Boris Johnson Accused Of Cronyism

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 174 months ago
Boris Johnson Accused Of Cronyism

Image by Simon K
The Mayor has been accused of trying to fix up former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley, who turned her paper into a pro-Johnson cheerleader during the election, with a plum job at the Arts Council.

The Times has come into possession of a letter (PDF) in which the Chair of the Arts Council, Dame Liz Fogan, resists Boris' recommendation, saying that Wadley has "almost no arts credibility" (~zing!) and suggesting that the Mayor's intended appointment "is based on reasons other than selection of the best candidate for the post". Cronyism, if we're to read between the lines. Boris is accused of reneging on an agreement that Wadley would not make the shortlist, and getting Munira Mirza, his director of arts, culture and the creative industries and a member of the judging panel, to campaign hard on her behalf, arguing that her fundraising skills and expertise on music education made her eligible. But, as Dame Fogan tartly puts it in her letter: "none of these are at the forefront of criteria for the job".

Over the weekend, The Independent revealed that Wadley had landed a senior arts-related post that was merely awaiting the Government imprimature. But the appointment has now been held up under the Nolan rules, which forbid political interference in certain public appointments. The loss of the position's £7,000 annual remuneration won't hurt Wadley much — she was described recently arriving at a book launch in a "brand new Range Rover" — but the embarrassment to Boris of such apparent cronyism could be costly.

Last Updated 08 October 2009