Underscoring the closeness between the media mogul and the London mayor, Boris Johnson met with Rupert Murdoch for dinner again in March – and this time he bothered to declared it in his gifts and hospitality register.
The disclosure of the meeting on the register lends credence to claims that Johnson’s staff staged a cover-up over secret meetings with Murdoch and News International staff at the height of the phone hacking scandal — and in the run up to the London mayoral election.
Last year saw the mayor of London quizzed by City Hall members and the media after Scrapbook discovered appointments which had not been disclosed on the GLA gifts and hospitality register, Boris’ expenses, or relevant reports to the London Assembly.
But he hasn’t got an election on his hands this time.
The enmity amongst Boris Johnson’s top transport advisers will be palpable on Victoria Embankment this morning, where Boris Johnson is PR-ing his “cycling vision” for London. His media lackey and “cycling commissioner” Andrew Gilligan will be in attendance, alongside Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy (far left above) — a man apparently described by Gilligan as a:
“long-serving transport beaurocrat who got lucky”
Gilligan has never publicly denied accusations from London hacks Adam Bienkov and Dave Hill that he was behind the online sockpuppet “kennite”, which was used to troll the Ken Livingstone administration and opponents of Boris Johnson:
The bitter resistance to the plum cycling czar appointment by City Hall figures such as Isabel Dedring (above right) has its roots in Gilligan’s characterisation of his current colleagues as the UK’s most grasping fat cats:
“Local government, with Mr Hendy as a prime example, shows how, in the public sector, perhaps even more than in the private, senior rewards seem to have lost all relationship with the service performed and the value obtained.”
Not having beaten the likes of Hendy, however, Gilligan has opted to join them – on a pro-rata salary of £95,000 per year.
Boris Johnson has claimed that a mansion tax on the super rich would prevent homeowners from carrying out basic repairs such as clearing damp — while conveniently neglecting to mention he lives in a four-storey Georgian townhouse worth millions.
The London mayor writes in his Telegraph column:
“If you see one of those damp patches appear on the ceiling – about the size and colour of a poppadom – you should just lie back and watch it grow. If the floorboards yawn open, just cover the gap with cardboard. Never mind the state of the downstairs lavatory. A faint aroma of ammonia never hurt anyone. Drip from the ceiling? Shove a bucket under it.”
The levy proposed by Ed Miliband last Thursday and described by Boris today as “nihilistic class war” would affect owners of homes worth over £2 million. Call us cynics, but perhaps the London mayor’s fulminations could be related to his leafy Islington pile, which set him back £2.3 million when he bought it in 2009. On inflation trends in the prestigious N1 location, the property is now likely to be worth more than £3 million.
Having put his foot in it by describing his £250,000 Telegraph column as “chicken feed”, Boris defended himself:
“I happen to write extremely fast … I don’t see why on a Sunday morning I shouldn’t knock off an article”
Perhaps he should have stayed in bed yesterday.
More: see the controversial photo of Boris’ home »
While David Cameron and George Osborne were snapped “loudly taking the piss” out of Boris Johnson in a Davos restaurant (pictured above) last week, it seems the London mayor also enjoys a joke at the expense of his fellow Bullingdon alumni. According to a report in the Express, Boris is fond of boasting to pals that his salary — thought to exceed £400,000 — is bigger than that of David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s combined.
The private remarks fly in the face of his previous claim that the money he receives for his Telegraph column is “chickenfeed”. Boris’ mayoral salary alone exceeds that of the prime minister, who takes home a paltry £142,500. With his £250,000 column included, his regular guaranteed income comfortably dwarfs that of both Cameron and Osborne, who earns a mere £134,565 as chancellor.
- Mayor of London — £143,911
- Telegraph column – £250,000
With his other interests, however, Boris is thought to trouser well in excess of £400,000 per year:
- Harper Collins book contract — ???
- Mail on Sunday book reviews — ???
- Spectator diary columns — ???
Out of touch much?
Part-time London mayor Boris Johnson tries his hand at climate science in his latest Telegraph column:
“I am starting to think this series of winters is not a coincidence … By my calculations, this is now the fifth year in a row that we have had an unusual amount of snow.”
Perhaps we should introduce Boris the 2013 climate science sceptic to mayor Boris of 2010, who wrote in the Climate change adaption strategy for London that:
“Our climate is changing, with London already experiencing warmer, wetter winters, hotter, drier summers and higher incidences of more extreme weather.”
As BorisWatch note, the mayor claims that “Climate change is no distant threat” before going on to downplay the significance of snow individual periods of snow:
“The recent heavy snowfalls – while not attributable to climate change – show the huge challenges that extreme weather can pose to the smooth running of our city”
Bozza adds piquancy to today’s column in citing weather forecaster and climate change-denier Piers Corbyn. While Piers, whose only peer reviewed work was on the prediction of high winds, has attained notoriety within the climate science community, he is also known to Westminster insiders as the brother of left-wing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy asks Piers to predict the sunniest day to host the Islington Labour Party barbecue each Summer.
Boris Johnson is to give Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan a plum City Hall job, Scrapbook understands. The paid appointment of, errr, cycling czar, comes Gilligan’s way less than a year after he acted as Boris’ election hatchet man in the mainstream media — with a pursuit of Ken Livingstone bordering on the obsessive.
Boris has form for giving friendly journalists — former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley is paid to advise the mayor on the Olympics volunteering legacy.
UPDATE: Statement from City Hall –
”It has always been the Mayor’s intention to appoint a Cycling Commissioner. Final discussions with Andrew Gilligan are taking place regarding a part-time role but at this stage no formal appointment has been made.”
Doubtless the Evening Standard will be taking a “cronyism” angle on this story. Cough.
The senior Boris Johnson aide who Scrapbook revealed had been accused of harassment has been named as his deputy mayor, Stephen Greenhalgh. The Tory, who is paid a whopping £127,784 per year, has apologised after allegedly fondling the bottom of a female member of staff in a lift.
Despite claiming that he could not remember the incident, Greenhalgh gave the following statement to Snipe late last night:
“I would like to apologise unreservedly for anything that could be or may have been construed as inappropriate behaviour on my part.”
Greenhalgh was appointed as Boris’ deputy mayor for policing in June after Scrapbook broke the news that he was quitting as leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
His tenure got off to one of the worst starts in City Hall history after he attempted to answer policing questions on his own — spurning the assistance of the Met boss Bernard Hogan Howe, who would usually accompanies the deputy mayor.
The incident is already the territory of a City Hall turf war … but more on that later.
A political appointee of Boris Johnson has been accused of harassment by a member of staff at the Greater London Authority, City Hall sources have told Scrapbook.
While official complaint processes have not been invoked, top management are aware of an alleged incident involving a member of the administration and a female employee.
We hope to bring you more tomorrow.