Nearly eight years after he offended the people of Liverpool, Boris Johnson is finally forgiven

Our diarist on how the Mayor of London, and potential future Tory leader, is getting on with northern voters, and the daily travails of life as a local councillor

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson has been forgiven. Not by everyone, but by some of those who speak for victims who lost loved ones in the crush at the Hillsborough football stadium 23 years ago.

The London Mayor, above, offended them in 2004, during his early days as an MP when he also edited The Spectator, which ran an editorial wrongly accusing drunken Liverpool fans of contributing to the disaster. He visited Liverpool to apologise after the editorial appeared, but that did not cut much ice because it was suspected that he was ordered to go by the then leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard.

More recently, Mr Johnson wrote to the ex-Liverpool MP Peter Kilfoyle – with no suspicion that he was under orders – to say: “The people of London stand alongside the people of Liverpool who, after so many years of waiting, finally have some semblance of justice in the wake of the awful events at Hillsborough in 1989.” Trevor Hicks, who lost two teenage daughters in Hillsborough, told the Liverpool Echo: “He has come to his senses. He was in trouble for a crass remark some time ago, but his actions speak louder than words, and I think it’s good of him to take the time and trouble to do this. Boris Johnson is forgiven.”

Revealed: the cost of being a councillor

It has been a good and bad week for Lord Hanningfield, the ex-Tory peer who went to prison for fiddling his expenses but is back in the Lords and, as I disclosed yesterday, claiming allowances and expenses to the tune of nearly £8,500 in three months.

The good news for him came when police said they had dropped their investigation into expenses he claimed as an Essex county councillor. He was so pleased that he told the East Anglian Daily Times he was considering a return to local politics. Yesterday, Hanningfield, pictured below. had a bit of a setback when police revealed just how much he spent on a credit card supplied by Essex County Council in 2005-10 – the sum of £286,938.96.

An unfortunate slip of the tongue

After the injustice inflicted on Lord McAlpine by Twitter trolls, it is doubly important that no one bandies around the names of any other innocent public figures in connection with child abuse – and doubly unfortunate that an 82-year-old former Law Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, should commit this slip of the tongue, recorded in yesterday’s Hansard: “In view of Mr Steve Messham’s withdrawal of any allegation against Lord McNally…” No, milord – neither Steve Messham nor anyone else has ever suggested that Lord McNally, a Liberal Democrat Justice Minister, is implicated. Hansard records that Lord Lloyd’s gaffe provoked howls of protest from the red benches. He hurriedly corrected himself.

Thieves put spoke in cycle fan’s wheel

You have to feel sorry for Alan Sitkin, a councillor in Enfield, north London, who chairs the borough’s environmental scrutiny panel and sets a fine example cycling 50 miles a week – normally. At a meeting last week, he spoke about the good work the authority has done to promote cycling and cycle lanes. Then, as he left the civic centre at 11.30pm, he discovered someone had nicked his bike. He has complained to the Enfield Advertiser that he is suffering withdrawal symptoms.