UK Politics

Parsimony, rage, Rosemary and slime

Ken Livingstone is understandably miffed at senior staffer Rosemary Emodi’s economy with the truth. Ken told the BBC “When someone looks you in the eye and gives you an absolutely categorical assurance I tend to accept that,” adding that had he known he would have fired her.

Good. But I don’t think this was simply a case of neglecting to register interests or freebies – which Livingstone’s senior staff seem to have a problem doing. Recently Livingstone’s own deputy, Nicky Gavron, was investigated for this last year. Nor do I think it was simply a case of lying – another regretable quality plaguing City Hall – Gavron’s aide, Miranda Grell, is a convicted liar after using paedophile smears to gain electoral advantage.

No, I think there may be more to this than lies and sloppy accountancy. This is what’s bugging me.

The holiday-experience company Kamp Afrika footed the bill for the trip believeing that Emodi was coming to finalise a deal with London.

The question that needs to be asked is how Kamp Afrika got the impression that they were finalising a deal with London, and thus paid for a luxury holiday for a senior City Hall staffer. If they were deliberately misled into thinking they might get a contract out of City Hall, then perhaps there is a case of fraud to answer.

The Nigerian press were certainly briefed that a deal had been struck with London. A Lagos paper reported before this scandal broke:

Recently, the Major of the city of London, sent representatives to Nigeria, on a fact finding mission, and also to forge the relations that has been sown between the city of London office, and the Kamp Afrika initiative project, founded by Mr. Wanle Akinboboye, with headquarters at the La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ikegun, Lekki area of Lagos… Following their comprehension of the rudimentsr of Kamp Afrika, they immediately expressed the willingness of the Mayor’s office, to work with Kamp Afrika… Mr. Errol Walters, who is the Managing Director of Brixton Base Limited, a capacity improving social outfit in London, under the Mayor of London’s office, formally informed Kamp Afrika officials, of the official provision of office spaces for the project in London, by the Mayor’s office.

The paper has now added a disclaimer to the story which reads:

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London contacted in response to this story and said: “The claims made in this article are false and inaccurate. No representatives from the Mayor of London’s office have been sent to Nigeria. The Mayor’s office have no links with Kamp Afrika and have not agreed to provide office space or funding. Brixton Base is not run by the Mayor’s office and any representatives from this organisation who visited Nigeria were not acting on behalf of the Mayor of London.”

Boy, faces must have been red when Rosemary Emodi fessed up.

Brixton Base, for those who might be wondering how they fit into the picture, is the company run by Lee Jasper’s friend Errol Walters. Mr Jasper is a patron of Brixton Base. The company has also, according to press reports, recieved more than half-a-million Pounds from the London Development Agency, who seem to have given an awful lot of money to companies connected with – oh, you know this – Lee Jasper.

Another nagging question is why, if Kamp Afrika is a luxury £200-a-night resort, don’t they have a website, or in fact any reference on the web other than in the context of the City Hall scandal? How do they take bookings?

Does Kamp Afrika actually exist even? Or is it a ‘virtual’ concept that piggy-backs on other resorts? Surely an educational camp for school kids couldn’t cost 200 quid a night?

But I suppose this is a minor concern compared with Ken Livingstone’s senior staffers appearing to be making promises of City Hall contracts to private enterprises in return for luxury holidays and attending perks. The question of why Kamp Afrika thought spending thousands of pounds flying Ms Emodi and (her boss Lee Jasper’s associate) Errol Walters out for a stay at their exclusive resort was money well spent needs to be addressed.

Were Kamp Afrika’s owners simply delusional, or were they misled, tempted by the lure of a big London-sponsored contract into shelling out for holiday’s for Lee Jasper’s deputy and his business associates?