Livingstone's £120,000 race adviser blames 'racists' as he resigns over saucy emails

The chief race relations adviser to the Mayor of London resigned last night, claiming he was the victim of a "racist" and "relentless media campaign".

Lee Jasper stood down after fresh allegations in London's Evening Standard yesterday. The newspaper alleged that the49-year-old had sent a series of explicit emails to a woman linked to two organisations that benefited from hundreds of thousands of pounds in grants from City Hall.

Mr Jasper, who was suspended from his £120,000-a-year post last month pending a police investigation into public money used to finance community groups, was due to appear before the London Assembly today to answer questions in connection with the claims.

But Ken Livingstone's aide said he would be quitting to prevent further overshadowing the Mayor's re-election bid in May against his Conservative challenger Boris Johnson.

"It has become clear that a number of matters which are not of first importance in London are being used to distract from the crucial questions in the election campaign. The racist nature of a relentless media campaign and the consequent effects on myself and my family have placed an intolerable strain on all of us," he said in his resignation letter to the Mayor.

Mr Johnson immediately seized on the Mayor's difficulties, saying the departure was "further proof that Ken Livingstone has had his day". He added: "He has repeatedly said he is directly responsible for the actions of his advisers and he should take Jasper's place and answer the questions that Jasper won't. Otherwise Londoners can only conclude he is arrogant and out of touch. Londoners deserve to know where their hard-earned cash has gone."

A spokesman for the Greater London Authority paid tribute to Mr Jasper's "outstanding" achievements. The spokesman said: "Racist attacks have been reduced by more than a half in eight years and, last year, racist attacks rose by 12 per cent in the UK as a whole but fell by 14 per cent in London."

The Evening Standard and its journalist Andrew Gilligan have relentlessly pursued the story, claiming that vast sums of public cash have been channelled into projects with little or no benefit for ordinary Londoners. The newspaper last night dismissed claims that its inquiries had been racially motivated. "We have always insisted that the Mayor has to be held to account for the actions of Lee Jasper who he personally appointed, and the way London Development Agency grants have been approved and managed. It was never a question of racism. While the Evening Standard welcomed police investigations into how grants have been spent, it did not call for them," the newspaper said.

The final straw came yesterday with a report detailing embarrassingly intimate exchanges between Mr Jasper, who has nine children, and Karen Chouhan, who is married with three children, in 2006. She denied there had been any impropriety in the money paid to either of the groups with which she was involved, the 1990 Trust and the Black Londoners' Forum.

A code of ethics governing the Mayor's staff requires them to disclose any "close personal" relationships with groups that receive funding.

Of the emails, one of which praised her "feet, ankles, legs, thighs, bum and belly, arms, head and brain", Ms Chouhan said they were examples of the senior aide getting carried away. "Lee's mistake is to put stuff down... He writes too much banter and a lot of rubbish, and that's his mistake," she said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform