Two new allegations around London Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis have emerged today. First, that – contrary to his claims – his Academy is no longer being funded by Newham Council and, second, that despite repeated references to Ray Lewis being a Magistrate, in fact according to the Ministry for Justice Ray Lewis “is not and never has been a Magistrate“.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is increasingly in the firing line over the whole issue because the Evening Standard has documented a series of checks that could have been undertaken before Ray Lewis’s appointment but which weren’t. Given the seniority of Ray Lewis’s post (Deputy Mayor, albeit that he isn’t the only one), shouldn’t Boris Johnson have ensured that full checks were carried out before he was appointed?
If Boris Johnson had been misled by someone, that’s one thing. But if he failed to make sure the right questions were asked, there’s no shirking the responsibility for that.
UPDATE: Ray Lewis has now resigned.
UPDATE 2: Ray Lewis had also said that he was not aware of having been banned by the Church of England from holding office. The Church has now responded by saying that he had in fact appealed against the ban (and therefore must have known about it).
Meanwhile, a war of words has broken out between the Church of England and the Conservative Party. The Conservatives have tried to blame the Church, as The Times reports:
In a desperate attempt to ensure that Johnson’s first serious crisis does not undermine Cameron’s own position, Nick Boles, a key member of Cameron’s “kitchen cabinet” and one of Johnson’s most senior aides, accused church leaders of negligence. He said they had failed to disclose that they had a dossier of accusations made against Lewis while he was a vicar. “The church sat on it and suddenly decided to bring it into the public [arena] now. Why?” he said.
But the Church has hit back, saying that Boris Johnson and his team are at fault for not asking questions they should have asked:
Chris Newland, chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford, said: “Lewis’s ministry was restricted because of very serious allegations. If you want to employ someone in a high-profile job, you check with their employers, you take up their references. None of that was done.”
And in worse news for Boris Johnson it has now come to light that not only was he written to about Ray Lewis’s past (though this is some controversy over how clear this was made in the letter and whether or not Boris Johnson was told about the contents of the letter) but that in addition that the Bishop of Barking spoke to him personally over Ray Lewis’s background.