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21 April 2008

What a way to run an investigation

The Electoral Commission responds to my complaints about Ken Livingstone.

By Martin Bright

An intriguing reply to my complaint to the Electoral Commission about Ken Livingstone. Lisa Klein, Director of Party and Election Finance writes to advise me of the outcome of her “inquiries”. My assertion was that Livingstone’s advisers, funded by the taxpayer, worked on Livingstone’s election campaign in 2004. This, I would suggest, amounts to an undisclosed donation by the Greater London Authority to the mayor’s campaign, which is not permissable.

“My view,” says Klein, “is that individual officers alleged to have worked for Mr Livingstone’s campaign, even if they did so, could not be said to have donated GLA resources unless their actions were authorised by the authority.”

So Livingstone’s aides would only have been in breach of the rules if they had asked for and been given permission to break them. How bizarre.

I am also interested in the investigative methods used by Ms Klein. How did she find out whether the GLA had authorised wrongdoing? By asking the GLA. “Having raised this issue with the Head of Paid Service at the GLA, my understanding is that no GLA staff were specifically authorised to work for or with Ken Livingstone’s campaign during paid time.” We happen to know that advisers to the mayor did work on the campaign during work time because one of them, Atma Singh, has turned whistleblower. But according to the Electoral Commission, this was fine because they did so behind their employer’s back.

Read the whole letter below. It strikes me that Klein’s chopped logic gives a free pass to anyone who wishes to continue the practice in this and any future mayoral elections.

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