Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 08:29 UK

Mayor Johnson 'misled' by deputy

Boris Johnson and Ray Lewis
Boris Johnson said his confidence in Ray Lewis had been shaken

London Mayor Boris Johnson has said he was "misled" by his deputy, Ray Lewis, who resigned on Friday.

Mr Lewis, Deputy Mayor for Young People, stood down amid claims of financial irregularities stretching back almost a decade.

But Mr Johnson said his "confidence was shaken" when he was wrongly led to believe that Mr Lewis was a magistrate.

The Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, said the mayor's administration was in "complete disarray".

Mr Lewis, a former prison officer, is facing an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour relating to his time as a vicar in east London in the late 1990s and head of a youth academy scheme in 2003.

This includes a claim he was entrusted with 25,000 from a woman in the congregation in the Parish of St Matthew, West Ham.

This shows vividly the incompetence of Boris Johnson and his administration
Ken Livingstone

However, it was an understanding that he was a magistrate which Mr Johnson centred on in a statement regarding his deputy's resignation, which he said was accepted with "extreme reluctance".

The mayor added: "I cannot deny, however, that my confidence in Ray was shaken by the discovery today that he is not a fully fledged Justice of the Peace and I cannot deny that to be misled on this issue has made it harder for me to give Ray the backing necessary to continue in his role as deputy mayor."

In a press conference at City Hall to announce his resignation, Mr Lewis said: "There was some talk in the press of me being or not being a magistrate.

"If you are fully paid-up members of the 'hair splitters' convention it will have made a difference to you whether or not I was appointed or recommended for appointment.

Ray Lewis hopes to support Boris Johnson in an unofficial capacity

"I've passed all the interviews for it. I've had a letter confirming that I have been recommended for appointment to the board."

Major figures in the Labour Party immediately launched an attack on the mayor's administration and the Conservative leader David Cameron.

Ms Blears said: "People across the country will note that after just two months, the new Tory administration in London is in complete disarray.

"David Cameron has known Ray Lewis since his first day as Tory leader and Boris Johnson appointed him as deputy mayor days into the job.

"People will ask themselves, how have they allowed themselves to be embroiled in a mess like this?"

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone added: "In a mere two months in office Boris Johnson has already suffered the second resignation from among his most senior officials - Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis following Deputy Chief of Staff James McGrath two weeks ago.

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"In my entire eight years in office I suffered only one enforced resignation of any of my most senior officials, Lee Jasper - and that only after seven years.

"This extreme contrast shows vividly the incompetence of Boris Johnson and his administration.

"It is an equal crisis for David Cameron who, it should be remembered, chose to make his first photo opportunity as Tory leader with Ray Lewis."

But Mr Johnson offered some backing to his former deputy and said: "If Ray Lewis cleared his name then of course I would re-appoint him."




SEE ALSO
Uncertain future for Ray Lewis
05 Jul 08 |  UK Politics

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