Friday, February 08, 2008
Chickens coming home to roost?
Recent investigations are focusing on Lee Jasper:
Yesterday assembly members unveiled an 800-page "summary document" including emails and letters that opponents of Livingstone claim proves that Jasper breached the rules. In two gruelling sessions, senior figures from the LDA, the Greater London Authority and Livingstone were grilled about the allegations of fraud and corruption.
The questions that need answering are:
Do emails released yesterday between Jasper and LDA officials prove that Livingstone's race adviser ordered LDA officials to halt eviction proceedings against the Brixton Base project?
Did he declare his role as patron of Brixton Base to the LDA and the GLA?
Is there a comprehensive audit trail for the money spent on the projects?
Was the money given to these projects spent effectively?
The mayor's office insists there is no proof of any wrongdoing and points out that the money involved in all 12 allegations amounts to just .05% of the LDA's total budget. It also highlights an internal review by the LDA last month which cleared Jasper of improperly influencing allocation of funds.
Livingstone has stood by his adviser as allegations of cronyism were made, and many of Jasper's supporters have pointed to his record of work on behalf of minorities, especially his role as chair of the lay advisory group on Operation Trident, the Metropolitan police unit which investigates gun crime in the black community. They say the criticisms are an attack on the black voluntary sector.
His accusers insist the issue has nothing to do with race or targeting Livingstone, but is about procedures and the stewardship of public money.
The police investigation into six of the projects is continuing and now assembly members have thousands of pages of emails, letters and documents to work through as they check allegations that could have a major impact on the mayoral election.