Boris Johnson is hiring Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan to be a "cycling commissioner" for London. The Scoop's Adam Bienkov got the scoop:
The job will be a paid ‘pro rata’ position and he will do “one or two days a week.” The exact terms and conditions have not yet been finalised.
He plans to continue writing for the print edition of the Telegraph but will no longer comment on London politics on his Telegraph blog.
The Mayor's office confirmed it was in discussions with Andrew Gilligan, but said that since, at this stage, no formal appointment has been made, it could not offer any further details on the matter.
Gilligan himself did confirm that he had been offered the job, writing on his Telegraph blog that:
It’s emerged today – slightly earlier than planned – that I’ve been offered a job as Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner. It’s part-time; I’ll continue in my day job, covering national and international news for the Telegraph, though I will no longer be called London Editor or cover any matter related to City Hall or Boris Johnson.
I’m very pleased to be doing this at a time when London cycling stands on the cusp of quite ambitious change. As perhaps the foremost cycling blogger in London, Danny Williams, was kind enough to say, I have been a “big supporter” and long-term advocate of London cycling.
Gilligan's coverage of London politics, in both the Telegraph and his previous employer, the London Evening Standard has been largely characterised by a partisan spin. Labour's Ken Livingstone and the independent mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman frequently come under attack — often together, and repeatedly — while Boris was defended as frequently as his policies were criticised.
As a result of the apparent chumminess, Labour has attacked the proposed appointment as cronyism, with the leader of its London Assembly group telling Bienkov that:
It looks like Boris has just appointed one of his friends without any independent evaluation of his skills or suitability for the post.
Following the accusations, Gilligan has published a follow-up blog defending his record and Boris' and arguing that "all mayors are entitled to appoint political supporters to political jobs, and do so routinely without controversy. Nobody would or should call, say, the Labour assembly member Val Shawcross a crony because Boris’s predecessor appointed her as chair of the fire authority."