Emails obtained by Scrapbook reveal panic at City Hall after Boris Johnson’s campaign hijacked the mayor’s twitter feed in March. With criticism pouring in, Boris’ most senior aide Guto Harri desperately tried to figure out an official explanation for the theft — while civil servants were ordered to delete electronic references to the @MayorofLondon twitter.
Having transferred the account, which boasted 250,000 followers by virtue of being maintained by taxpayer-funded staff for four years, Johnson’s camp took four hours to realise they were in breach of strict purdah election rules — with some also claiming staff had authorised the illegal transfer of a public asset.
An email sent to staff at 4:22pm pleaded:
“If you have any links to @mayoroflondon on your email signature or anywhere else, please can you remove it asap?”
And despite attempts that afternoon to disseminate campaign propaganda with the account, Guto Harri led attempts to backtrack towards a tenable holding position:
“The feed will provide non-political information about his ongoing duties and experiences as Mayor (not candidate)”
Harri warned staff: “I would also like to make clear that you should all avoid any involvement” with the account “for your own protection.” By 7pm, however, legal sense had prevailed and the account was returned to public ownership.
To paraphrase City Hall’s head of media: if anyone has any faith in the Boris campaign’s competency, please could they remove it ASAP?