Thursday, July 16, 2009

Audit Panel

This morning I chaired the first meeting of the City Hall audit panel, since I took over the gavel, courtesy of the Lib Dems at the Assembly AGM.

I suspect they put me in charge because they felt it would be a sleepy backwater with no media profile (I could be wrong, perhaps they rate my abilities...), however thanks to Ian Clement and Lee Jasper there was rather more attention than usual. The agenda was also about three times its usual length.

Apologies for Absence

Dave Hill at The Guardian had expressed concerns about BNP member Richard Barnbrook's presence on the panel (the Assembly had to put him somewhere) particularly as reports about funding to minority organisations and politicians' expenses provided perfect material for one of his trademark rants. This was probably one of his best opportunities yet to make an impact since he was elected so he SENT HIS APOLOGIES!!!

District Auditor's Report

The main item for consideration was the District Auditor's double report into the distribution of grants under the previous regime. The first report dealt with the allegations of impropriety at the GLA, the second with the handling of an official complaint made by Assembly Members at the time. Allegations around the LDA are still being investigated and will be considered by that body, so they are unlikely to be discussed by our audit panel.

Report one concluded that rather a lot of rules had been broken with respect to declaring interests in a timely manner. The then mayor's advisor on equalities and policing had signed off grants to organisations with which he had personal involvement. The funding agreements by which money was distributed did not enable measurement of value for money, so although the auditor felt some value had been derived, he was unable to satisfy himself that Londoners had received everything that was paid for. A general lack of record keeping made it difficult to find an audit trail for decisions that had been made. There was no evidence of criminal activity, but the procedures for controlling and monitoring the situation fell well short of an acceptable standard.

Report two concluded that a complaint from Brian Coleman - regarding allegations that the advisor had improperly used GLA resources in a conflict with Equalities Commissioner Trevor Phillips - was not effectively investigated under the authority's whistle blowing policy. Indeed the Finance Director informed the committee that officers did not consult the existing policy and the District Auditor added that he was unaware of its existence! The staff who failed to carry out the investigation correctly had - we were told - all left the GLA since then. The panel members were stunned and genuinely angry about this.

Putting it Right

The Panel is not looking for evidence of dishonesty, and we are not conducting a campaign against individuals - rather, we are overseeing a transition from a culture where this situation could occur to one of greater transparency and higher standards. All members of the panel - those who were present - agree that we want to see officers turning stones over to discover what lies beneath and we want GLA probity rules enforced. The good news is that reports were tabled detailing the work being done to improve record keeping, risk management, funding agreements and the register of interests. This is work in progress and we have instructed senior management to provide us with an update at our next meeting in October.


Rog T said...


I read with interest your comments about Richard Barnbrooke sending his apologies. Which particular apologies were these?

Apologies for holding repulsive views?

Apologies for not doing any work since getting elected, but trousering wads of cash?

Apologies for trying to embarrass the Queen by bringing an unsuitable partner to her garden party?

I suspect that if Richard Barnbrooke sent his apologies for everything he should apologise for, you would still be there this time next week.

Roger Evans said...

Apologies for his absence... Sorry I didn't make that clearer.

Lee Jasper said...

Actually Roger

The headlines were for the DA report and DLA Piper.

No Fraud, No Corruption, No Cronyism, No Missing Millions.


There are no additional investigations by the LDA that work was completed by the publication of the DLA Piper Report that was published after the DA was sent to the GLA

I did not sign of those mayoral approval Forms authorising funding, my role was simply to certify the application was in accordance with the GLA equality policy at the time. The responsible budget holder for funding signed off on the actual grant. It states this quite clearly in the Auditors Report, which I assume you read.

In relation to ' timely declarations ' well yes I should have ignored the legal advice of the GLA at the time and declared everything.

However these findings are a far cry from the accusations made by your party of a ' tide of corruption that extends all the way to the door of the Mayors office”. Your party played the race card and made the calculation that such baseless accusations would be more readily believed when leveled at a black man.

Given the damage done by your party to my reputation and that of many leading black figures in the community and the black voluntary sector in London I think the gentlemanly thing to do is for the Mayor, Barnes , Cleverly , Dale and others to apologies for the harm done.

Having had my name comprehensively cleared of the substantive allegations you can be assured that this matter will become on ongoing issue for the this Mayor. The Black communities of London are rightly outraged by this whole disgracefull episode.. Enjoy the summer break - see you when you get back.

Lee Jasper

morris hickey said...

And I trust that apologies for his absence were noted with the greatest of pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Is that the real Lee Jasper, if so mate, get a life

You just dont get it, it has nothing to do with one community over another - it is about your failings

Rog T said...


Your gutless comments would carry more weight if you put a name to them. Lee Jasper had his name dragged through the mud. He's got every right to emphasise the point wherever he likes that he's been cleared. The fact he's been cleared has nowhere near as much coverage as the stories about him.

morris hickey said...

Spot on, Roger T. It's the sort of behaviour that can lead some blog owners to the reluctant decision not to publish.