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Deputy Mayor of London's expense fiddle

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Ex-Bexley Council leader gets himself into hot water over credit card spend

Our correspondent writes ...

ian clementIan Clement became the leader of Bexley Council in May 2006 when the Tories ousted the Labour Party in the London Borough elections. He also joined the Executive of London Councils where he served as lead member for Crime and Public Protection.

In May 2008 he resigned from Bexley Council and took up an appointment as Deputy Mayor of London responsible for government relations both in the UK and internationally. It was muted at the time that this was his reward for canvassing intensively on behalf of Boris Johnson in order to secure Boris' bid to become Mayor of London. The votes for Boris from Bexley and Bromley boroughs certainly helped Boris to achieve his aims.

Financially, it was a good move for Clement as the Deputy Mayor's job pays a handsome annual remuneration of 124,000 - a salary that most of us lesser mortals could probably struggle by with, especially in times of recession. Another perk of the post is that the occupiers of such jobs are given a Greater London Authority (GLA) credit card. Clement used his to buy 1,500's worth of personal items like a CD player for his car, meals out and groceries. Naturally, Boris blew his stack when he discovered the GLA card was being used for things that were nothing to do with GLA business and Clement's credit card was immediately confiscated after an internal investigation.

Clement paid back the money when the statement arrived (in the true style of modern politicians) but yet again the affair stinks of attempted theft from the public purse. With his experience as 'lead member for crime and public protection' on the Executive of London Councils, Clement must surely have known that his actions were wrong yet, one assumes, if he hadn't thought he might get away with it he would have used his own credit card for the purchases, not the one funded by taxpayers. On the other hand, being a Deputy Mayor with special responsibility for government relations, perhaps he thought that entitled him to behave like an MP.

Before he left Bexley Council, Clement made two trips to the USA to take part in leadership courses run by BT and Bexley taxpayers forked out 7,000 in hotel bills, flight costs and a private car to take him to and from the airport. Strangely, BT also hold these courses in London. Now questions are being asked in the borough about any other claims Clement may have made during his tenure as a local councillor.

Questions are also being asked by other London Assembly members. Some, indeed, are demanding that a head should roll. As usual, there are no signs that Clement will do the honourable thing but we await to see if there are any further developments.

Editorial Comment:

Poor old Boris. He doesn't seem to have much luck with his deputies. Three have already stepped down or resigned during the last year, one of them accused of financial irregularities.

Just as well for us that Ian Clement is a Conservative otherwise Gordon would probably offer him a cabinet position. He likes his inner circle to display a streak of dishonesty.

Latest developments

17th June 2009: Although there have been many calls for Ian Clement to be sacked, Mayor Boris Johnson has refused to do so claiming that there was no deliberate attempt to be dishonest. (Really?)

Clement claims to have offered his resignation but the Mayor refused to accept it, preferring instead to issue a severe reprimand and a written warning. This appears to be a rather weak decision given the current revelations about politicians' expenses in the Daily Telegraph. The more our political leaders talk about open transparent government and cleaning up politics, the less they actually seem to do about it. Bad decision, Boris. If you don't show determination and make an example, more will surely assume they can dip their snouts into the trough.

Click here to see how the 'other half' live on your money.
(5,685.33 in six months)

22nd June: Clement finally pays the penalty for his sins

Following further investigations it appears there were other financial irregularities with Clement's GLA expenses and also his expenses while he was the Leader of Bexley Council. Boris collared Clement angrily and told him his position was untenable. Clement resigned.

So that's it then. Another politician steals from the public purse and gets away with resigning. Whatever happened to the days when theft was considered to be a crime? A few nights in a police cell would have set a far better example to all the others with their snouts in the trough!

So come on, Boris. What are you waiting for? I'd love a job sorting out dodgy councillors and MPs ... and I'll do it for a lot less than 127,000 a year.

Anon of London writes (on 18th April 2012):

Just came across this when looking at something else. I realise this is old news now but thought you may like to know that I used to work with Ian Clement before he became leader of Bexley Council.

His downfall in this manner would come as no surprise to those that knew him then. He resigned from his position as Deputy Store Manager of a large wholesalers in SE7 during a comfort break during an investigative hearing involving the UK personnel director. The meeting had been called to investigate expenses irregularities and missing funds.

Editorial Comment:

What is it they say about leopards and spots? Unfortunately, it seems neither Boris or Cameron are particularly good at picking reliable, honest people to work for them.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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