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March 13, 2008


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Jonathan Myerson's Guardian article (which names no names)was written in March 2005. Lee Jasper emphatically did not, as Myerson thinks, "slam on the brakes" at Green Badge Taxi School in March 2005. In that same month the school was paid a grant of £70,000 by the Mayor's other agency, TfL, with Jasper's explicit support. I have copies of letters in which Nowell and Grey thank him for getting them the money.

Also in that month, and subsequent months, Jasper advised and assisted Nowell and Grey in their legal action against the Green Badge building's co-tenant, Harriet Pickering. Again, I have copies of letters from their lawyers which are cc'd to him; one, indeed, explicitly says that Nowell and Grey have taken an action against her "following advice from Lee Jasper." Subsequently, Harriet Pickering went to see Jasper to complain about Nowell and Grey. She says she got the complete brush-off and was told: "You can't prove they're doing anything wrong."

After we ran our first story about the Green Badge Taxi School on 21 December 2007, the LDA issued a press release claiming our story was "totally misleading" and that its own investigations had found there was "not sufficient evidence to justify further criminal investigation." Even then, the LDA's priority was clearly to protect Lee Jasper's back rather than its own money. Luckily the police were interested in our evidence and seem to have put it to good use.

Our story reported Jasper's refusal to help Ms Pickering, his assistance to Mr Nowell and Mr Grey and his key role in securing their grants in exactly the way I've just described. It never alleged Jasper benefited personally from this scheme.

I would have been most interested to hear from Mr Myerson, either in 2005, or, indeed, after the initial Lee Jasper articles were published and his party colleague Ken Livingstone was calling me a racist and a liar. My number is easily obtainable. But I can assure him that with the libel laws being what they are, I have been into the Green Badge Taxi School story far more thoroughly than he has.

Jonathan Myerson

Just to clarify a few things:

I was not setting out to investigate this farago when I wrote my article in the Guardian. It was merely part of a monthly column I wrote in the Society section about my life as a councillor and this happened to be just one month's column. Obviously, I went on being involved in the issue as Councillor for months, if not years following.

If I remember right, I think it was the column which prompted my meeting with Lee Jasper. So presumably that meeting took place in April or May - after the TfL March grant.

I can well believe that Lee was unhelpful to Harriet. He wasn't exact God's Gift To Charm when he sat down with me. I don't think white, Recovering Public Schoolboys are quite his cup of tea. So Harriet - and before anyway makes this into a scoop, she and I happened to go to the same posh private school! - probably was at the receiving end of the same bluster. So yes, he probably stuck up for the Green Badge guys in the face of us. And maybe 'brake slamming' is too strong. But there were no more grants paid after my column, after our meeting. And if Grey or Nowell claim he was backing them up, are we really going to believe them? Anyone can tell their lawyer to cc something to someone.

I would have loved to have contacted Mr.Gilligan then. Was he on the Standard at that time? Or was he still dealing with professional embarrassments best not rehashed here? Either way, I contacted the Standard's Local Government correspondent (forgive me, I can't remember his name...a Scottish guy, if I remember right) several times and outlined the horrendous story and failed to get a bite. So did Harriet. In other words, when there was no political axe to grind, the Standard was unmoved by this tale. Yet now....


"I don't think white, Recovering Public Schoolboys are quite his cup of tea. "

Which is fair enough, but not so great if you happen to be an ordinary member of the Common People trying to get on with life - and why some working people who AREN'T racist get so utterly enraged.

All those grants that say something on the lines of "preference will be given to applications which can be shown to benefit ethnic minorities" do really immense harm.


Andrew Gilligan is one of those rare journalists who's simply committed to the truth wherever it leads. Whether it's the BBC or Standard is immaterial. As far as the case alluded to a couple of years ago, I believe Gilligan came out of that with his integrity intact so Myerson should put-up or shut-up with respect to that.


Diverted by link on CiF...

Seriously, why try to make this half-baked semi-exoneration of Lee Jasper? You have to accept that the truth is in the Standard - if it had not been, then you can bet that the full force of Livingstone's lawyers would have onto it.

And why does the Standard's non-acceptance of the story then somehow invalidate it now? Everyone knows the fickle nature of editors. It took on a new urgency in the election year. If it proves that the ES supports Boris then so what? The Guardian clearly supports Ken. This is not the US. Newspapers are allowed to support political candidates.

I think we might see more on Jasper.

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