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July 06, 2008

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Tory Troll

It seems that many of these stories will go unanswered. Buried in the Express story is the news that the inquiry will now be dropped:

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/51279/Tory-disarray-in-deputy-row

The spin from City Hall is that Lewis is just one part of a team and that his work will carry on regardless, but what this has exposed is some real problems with the management of City Hall. An inquiry would have been expensive and politically damaging for Boris sure, but it would also have forced them to sort their act out. That will not necessarily happen now.

Helen

"...had been a member of the Church of England". Er, no, there's a difference between belonging to the Church of England and having been ordained as a priest, a life-long vocation, which made it glaringly obvious that there is something seriously dodgy going on if a priest suddenly *isn't* a priest.

Tory Troll

Hang on. George Osborne just told Andrew Marr that there will be an inquiry. What's going on?

angela

Exactly Dave, and thank you for making that point. The Church had the dossier for 12 YEARS. Ray Lewis was hardly a low profile appointment, he was all over the media. If they did it on purpose, that would be lousy, so let's hope not. What is that quotation from Martin Luther about the Church being a warm bed for the nurturing of sin?

The Standard on Friday had a small item as follows:

The Rt. Rev. John Gladwin Bishop of Chelmsford made a statement to Channel 4 news containing allegations of financial misconduct against Lewis. But amongst Gladwin's past activities is helping write a report for the Left-wing think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research. Gladwin's other causes include Ken Livingstone's pro-immigration campaign, Strangers into Citizens.

The paper also states "At least Lewis had an unlikely cheer leader in last night's Newsnight in the shape of former Mayor Ken Livingstone. Perhaps Ken knows how it feels to have his integrity questioned."

I saw the programme and Ken did speak up for Lewis and said that when he was appointed, he regretted that he had not appointed Lewis himself when he was in charge.

Wireman

Erm, Angela...

"Since organising a rally in May 2007, STRANGERS INTO CITIZENS‘s call has led to the adoption of a regularisation policy by the Liberal-Democrat party, secured the support of dozens of MPs of all parties and the endorsement of the new mayor of London, Boris Johnson."

http://www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk/

And as far as helping the IPPR is concerned, he presumably aligns himself with other contributors such as former defence chief Lord Guthrie, ex-CBI director Baron Turner of Ecchinswell and Tory MP Ian Taylor. Dangerous lefties all.

Fred

The inquiry is now dead, on the pathetic claim that the man is now private citizen. That is just bizzare. It seems like some must have said "you better close the inquiry or else i will tell everyone what I know."

Sunny

Actually, surely the fault lies more with Nick Boles?

The Church may have sat on the file, not sure if its true or not, but the burden of responsibility lies on the transition team, specifically Nick Boles, to properly vet each candidate that the Mayor hired.

Basically, they got paid 500,000 for what? For not even being able to check out people's backgrounds? They're rubbish. If Boris had any sense he's get rid of Boles instead.

angela

Wireman why didn't he speak up before? Very very peculiar.

Tom

"Ray Lewis was hardly a low profile appointment, he was all over the media"

I've already come across this pathetic line of argument and the demolition goes thus:

I hadn't heard of Ray Lewis as a prominent figure in the New Conservatism until 7th May 2008. Boris, if you remember, never told us who his team would be if he were elected, thus deliberately not giving the media and the public the chance to scrutinise Lewis' record until his feet were under the desk (which, if you think about it now, is outrageous).

Therefore we've had just under two months to get Lewis' history into the sights of the investigating media (which, compared to the ('BORIS LOL OMG H'ES GR8' media, is tiny) and, obviously, checked out sufficiently to avoid m'learned friends getting involved. That sounds about a reasonable length of time.

So, the question turns round and comes back at you, why did Team Boris appoint Lewis in secret without checking him or allowing anyone external to check him before he'd been given a £125k a year job in a crucial part of the team? Does that display a) great political judgement or b) complete indifference and contempt for democracy?

Wireman

What do you mean by "very, very peculiar", Angela?

They say they told Johnson informally at Millwall on May 11, following up with a letter setting out the only thing they could be absolutely sure of, that Lewis was on the Lambeth List of naughty priests.

It appears the current line to take is "why did they sit on it?" The implication being that there is some vast left-wing conspiracy involving the chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford and the Bishop of Barking.

Yes. I said Barking.

pastyface

Angela, exactly who were they going to tell. As stated by Tom we weren't privy to who Team Boris was going to include.

As soon as Mr Lewis was announced the wheels were set in motion to make the Mayor aware of the man's past, possible, indiscretions.

I assume the Church, like most of us would expect City Hall to undertake full vetting procedure's of all its salaried staff. We know this was not the case. That to me is very peculiar.

Much like this supposed witch hunt of a good man stance we now have.

Rob

"Angela, exactly who were they going to tell."

I guess one argument might be that the church officials might have wanted to warn the Charities Commission when the EYLA was established. They might have told David Cameron's office when he publicly posed with Ray Lewis, which apparently was his photo-op as leader. They might have told the Centre for Social Justice which was very publicly working with EYLA. They may even have deciced to inform the Guardian when it very publicly awarded EYLA in its 2007 Charity Awards.

It seems to me that there has been plenty of opportunities when officials at the CofE might have wanted to raise their serious doubts about Ray Lewis' character.

None of which excuses the administration's failure to make their own checks, but Ray Lewis was certainly a known figure - if not a household name - before May 2nd and it *seems* like the church sat on the information for quite a long time.

Tory Troll

The Church has a history (rightly or wrongly) of not wanting to air their laundry in public unless they absolutely have to. This has long been the case and has got them into trouble many a time before.

However, given that Team Boris didn't want to tell anyone they were employing Lewis until after the election and given that the church told them of their concerns in person and by mail once they had, then I don't really see that they are especially deserving of condemnation this time.

Could it be, and I'm only guessing here, that Team Boris have found themselves in such a desperate position over this that they have had to resort to attacking the church and accusing Bishops of lying in order to deflect a little attention? Just a thought.

Rob

"given that the church told them of their concerns in person and by mail"

Well, it does rather seem like the Church's version is unravelling a little since they apparently now acknowledge that the Mayor wasn't told in person at all and they admit their letter might have made the issue more prominent than it did.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-mayor/article-23508286-details/Church+admits+it+didn%27t+warn+Boris+over+deputy/article.do

It probably is a diversion to some extent but I'd suggest that Mayor has a right to be miffed that the Church, in the middle of a political furore, put out a version of events which misleadingly stated he had been personally warned.

Simon

As well as being a diversion I don't see that it is particularly important. If the Church had had an opportunity to raise their concerns prior to Lewis's appointment and chosen not to take it, that would have been one thing. But they had no such opportunity, and so the material difference was between forcing Lewis out after a few days and forcing him out after two months, which is fairly trivial in the wider scheme of things. The real failure is obviously that of the Conservatives' vetting procedure.

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