Assembly launches inquiry into Livingstone 'bullies'

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The London Assembly will launch an inquiry today into claims of "bullying" by Ken Livingstone's advisers.

Its appointments committee is to order an investigation into allegations that the Mayor of London's personal team intimidated assembly staff, after ananonymous e-mail complained about named advisers.

The e-mail, seen by The Independent, claims: "Some of the mayor's advisers have demonstrated an abysmal grasp of even basic management techniques, frequently bullying and threatening officers to obtain results." It was sent to Baroness Hamwee, the assembly chairwoman, who replied: "The matters you have raised are serious and of course concern us greatly." The committee is expected to ask Anthony Mayer, the chief executive of the Greater London Authority, which comprises the Mayor's office and the assembly, to investigate the claims.

An assembly source said: "There is concern about the e-mail and its allegations, which we take very seriously." Eric Ollerenshaw, a Tory committee member, said: "There are obviously fears within the bureaucracy that they are going to be manipulated for political ends."

Mr Livingstone is already being accused of cronyism for the favourable treatment he plans to extend to certain key aides.

Last month he revealed proposals to use his powers to appoint six trusted advisers to key posts on salaries of up to £100,000. Neale Coleman, John Duffy, Lee Jasper, Redmond O'Neill and John Ross are being lined up to become executive directors at the Greater London Authority. Mr Livingstone is also recommending that the post of head of media, currently occupied by his ally Joy Johnson, is elevated to executive-level status.

The planned promotion of the six has enraged his political enemies. They have likened the appointments, giving the advisers authority over civil servants, to the power wielded by Jo Moore when she was spin doctor to Stephen Byers at the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

The all-party appointments committee is considering whether to launch a court challenge to the creation of the six posts. It is taking legal advice over whether Mr Livingstone has exceeded his powers under the Greater London Authority Act.

A spokeswoman for Mr Livingstone said: "It is our view that the posts are covered by the GLA Act. That is the legal advice we have had."

She added: "Whoever was Mayor would want to appoint the people to deliver results." Asked about the bullying allegations, she said: "No complaints have been taken about any member of staff."

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