After last week’s denials on the Today programme it looks like the Mayor will have to answer questions from the Electoral Commission on the behaviour of GLA staff during the 2004 elections. The Times reports that it has seen e-mails that show at least one GLA staffer worked on the 2004 campaign during office hours. It says:
Ken Livingstone’s campaign instructed public servants to write articles in support of his last reelection as Mayor of London in a breach of rules forbidding political abuse of taxpayers’ cash.
Documents passed to The Times prove that staff paid for by public money were told to carry out campaign work during office hours. One e-mail to the mayor’s former senior adviser on Asian affairs, Atma Singh, sent at 9.30am, explicitly asks that he write two articles in support of Mr Livingstone by noon that day.
The evidence directly contradicts the Mayor of London’s claim last week that senior public officials could not and did not carry out such work during the 2004 campaign. He said officials could engage in political activity “as long as they obey the law, which is that they can’t publicly campaign, which is they can’t make a speech for me or write an article for me”.
Asked if an investigation would find that no one had used office time to prepare articles in pursuit of his campaign, he replied: “Absolutely right.”
Yet on May 27, 2004, Mr Singh received an e-mail from the campaign office of the Ken4London based in the headquarters of the London Labour Party. It said: “We are still waiting for your article for the Asian Post . . . and the East Muslim News (400-500 words on Why should Muslims vote for Ken Livinsgtone? – this is urgent, publication date June 1st). Both required 12 noon today.”
Mr Singh also told The Times that he spent up to 90 per cent of his days during the campaign working for Mr Livingstone’s reelection, in contravention of electoral rules.
The e-mail, along with others, is being handed over to the Electoral Commission today as part of a formal complaint against Mr Livingstone.