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This week the Evening Standard has run a series of special reports by Andrew Gilligan into the activities of the Mayor of London’s Director of Equalities and Policing, Lee Jasper (left). Jasper is referred to as a “former street hustler” in the reports and allegations are made that City Hall monies have been channelled to and squandered by Japser’s friends. The charges are vehemently denied by Jasper and the City Hall.
Gilligan (right), came to the fore in 2003 when, whilst serving as a correspondent on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he reported that the British government had “sexed up” a dossier produced on Iraq’s weapons capability in order to assist in making the case for going to war against Iraq that year. In 2005 he joined the Evening Standard as a defence and foreign affairs correspondent and is a confessed supporter of Tory Mayoral hopeful, Boris Johnson.
This weekend, Simon Woolley, founder and director of Operation Black Vote, a politically neutral organisation, has condemned the Evening Standard reports as an attack on the London’s ethnic minority communities. Woolley said,
“The unprecedented coverage, vicious in its content and tone, constitutes a Right wing political assassination attempt on one of the nation’s key Black figures. In terms of journalistic rigour it marks a new low in which the paper and its reporter Andrew Gilligan have sunk. In political terms it could spectacularly backfire for its intended beneficiary Boris Johnson.”
Woolley (left) says the allegations are in response to criticisms levelled at Johnson for referring to black people as having “Water melon smiles”, using the word “picanninies” and talking of Nelson Mandela’s “tyranny of democracy” in South Africa.
“The Evening Standard’s response along with Iain Dale’s blog and others has been to hit hard, primarily Jasper, and Black organisations he has had involvement in, with a series of lies, half-truths and personal slurs. Millions of pounds of taxpayers money ‘vanished’, according to one of papers more shocking untruths. ‘Corruption ‘, ‘criminals, ‘violence’, and ‘hustler’ have been the language used throughout in a speculative way that seeks to incriminate without a factual base.
“In all my years as a political activist I have never witnessed such an unscrupulous onslaught, based on the idea that, ‘if we throw enough mud at him and his associates some of it should stick’.”
Meanwhile black newspaper, New Nation - whose editor, Michael Eboda, wrote a letter in September with his counterpart at the Voice newspaper demanding that Conservative leader David Cameron dissociate himself from Johson’s comments – is publishing the results of a survey of promient, non political Black Britons tomorrow, which will show support amongst Black people for Johnson as being thin on the ground.
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