Mayor’s race aide suspended

Ken Livingstone's campaign to be re-elected Mayor of London has suffered a serious setback after one of his closest allies was suspended amid allegations of financial irregularities.

Lee Jasper said he had asked police to examine "unfounded and poisonous" accusations about grants paid out by the London Development Agency (LDA). He was forced, in line with City Hall rules, to stand aside as the Mayor's equalities and policing director.

Mr Livingstone insisted Mr Jasper would be exonerated, but the surprise development will pile fresh pressure on the Mayor as he battles to rebut claims over cash paid to black community organisations.

The controversy centres on claims that hundreds of thousands of pounds have been paid to projects linked to Mr Jasper with little or nothing to show for the money. The LDA, which is run by the Greater London Authority, has already asked the police to investigate six grants and is scrutinising several more.

The Mayor had thrown his weight behind Mr Jasper after an internal LDA inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing, insisting his adviser was the target of a "racist smear campaign". But the Tories and Liberal Democrats claimed Mr Jasper's position was untenable and the London Assembly has been holding a series of hearings into the use of LDA cash.

Mr Livingstone announced yesterday that his aide had himself requested the police investigate the claims and was therefore being suspended in the meantime. The Mayor said: "I want to make completely clear the police have made no approach to me to refer these allegations. We are seeing an attempt at a trial by the media, with the London Assembly not merely refusing to scrutinise, but also preventing Lee Jasper answering these allegations even when he volunteers to do so. A police investigation will put a stop to this disgraceful political charade."

Mr Livingstone challenged Mr Jasper's accusers to take their evidence to the Metropolitan Police so a full investigation could be conducted. "In agreeing Lee's request, I have also made the extremely difficult decision that – like any GLA officer subject to a police investigation – Lee Jasper will be suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation," he added.

Mr Jasper accused the Assembly of prolonging its hearings for political reasons. He said: "The deliberate aim of this delay is not to achieve clarity but to string out a series of unfounded and poisonous allegations in the media, and investigation by the police will clear my name and put a stop to this."

The issue looks set to continue throughout the run-up to the mayoral election on 1 May. His Tory challenger, Boris Johnson, said: This is an outrageous attempt to avoid scrutiny. It was only 12 hours ago that the Mayor informed us that he had full confidence in Mr Jasper. What has changed his mind? Mr Jasper has been suspended – presumably on full pay – until after the election, in the hope that the full facts will not come out. It is clear the Mayor's handling of City Hall is descending into sleaze, chaos, and now cover-up."

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said police will examine any material that is handed to it on any subject where there are claims of a criminal act in London.

The influence of Mr Livingstone's circle of advisers has been a long-running subject of controversy at City Hall. Last month Mr Jasper's deputy, Rosemary Emodi, resigned after being caught lying about taking a free luxury weekend break in Nigeria. She denied visiting a £200- a-night resort in November, but was forced to quit after she was confronted with evidence about the trip.

The case against Lee Jasper

The claims include:

The LDA channelled more than £3m to 12 companies linked to Lee Jasper.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are missing or unaccounted for.

Some companies were dormant or had gone out of business and several were based in the same small room at a business centre.

Brixton Base, run by a close associate of Mr Jasper, received £280,000 to pay rent, even though the LDA is its landlord, as well as £230,000 to stage three short arts courses.

Diversity International, a web-based company run by a friend of Mr Jasper's, was given a £295,000 contract without going through the tendering process.

Ethnic Mutual, a company of which he is a director, was bailed out by a £18,000 handout.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence