Boris Johnson's policing deputy has been accused of using City Hall resources to promote his campaign to be the next mayor of London.
Earlier this year, the Conservative mayoral hopeful Stephen Greenhalgh posted a series of photos of himself holding up campaign literature while in City Hall.
The photos showed him standing with a campaign poster alongside members of the Transport for London board. Another photo showed him hosting Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners on the City Hall balcony.
Great to meet with UK Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners pic.twitter.com/74rUQh902b— Stephen Greenhalgh (@team_greenhalgh) January 8, 2015
Further tweets from the official Twitter account of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (which Greenhalgh heads), directed followers to Greenhalgh's personal campaign Twitter account.
1/2 Stephen Greenhalgh, whose role is politically unrestricted, has announced he's running for Mayor. He remains Deputy Mayor for Policing— MOPAC (@MOPACLdn) December 19, 2014
2/2 Mr Greenhalgh tweets separately via @team_greenhalgh - all inquiries and media bids relating to his campaign should be directed there— MOPAC (@MOPACLdn) December 19, 2014
The Greater London Authority's code of conduct strictly forbids the use of any City Hall resources for party political campaigning. Under the code, GLA staff must "ensure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes)"
Further GLA guidelines make it clear that no "elections-related photograph" can be taken inside GLA premises.
"City Hall will not be permitted to be used in support of any candidate or party in the elections and where an elections-related photograph is to be taken with the Mayor or an Assembly Member, this should only be outside City Hall," it states.
Labour today accused Greenhalgh of "campaigning on the rates" and said they would write to City Hall's monitoring officer.
"This looks like a clear cut case of Stephen Greenhalgh using his position as deputy mayor to promote his personal political ambitions," leader of the London Assembly's Labour group Len Duvall said today.
"Whilst he is of course free to stand for the mayoralty in 2016, the rules are very clear, you cannot go around using City Hall and taxpayer resources to help your campaign.
"Despite that we've had Stephen Greenhalgh using his MOPAC office to promote Conservative politicians and promoting his campaign policies at official TfL Board meetings.
"With months of campaigning still ahead of us I will be writing to the City Hall monitoring officer to ask him to make those rules crystal clear to Stephen Greenhalgh. What nobody wants to see is a candidate who thinks it's fine to do their personal politics on the rates."
Today's claims are likely to irritate those around the mayor, who are believed to have become increasingly annoyed by Greenhalgh's campaign activities.
The mayor's office were thought to have been particularly enraged when Greenhalgh recently announced his policy to cut TfL fares, while Boris Johnson was out of the country.
Further attacks on the mayor and his policing deputy predecessor's handling of Met finances, also went down badly on the eighth floor at City Hall as did another campaign pledge to look at axing certain night bus routes, which drew a highly dismissive response from TfL.
A spokesperson for the mayor last night declined to comment.
UPDATE. MOPAC's monitoring officer has just sent us the following statement:
"Dear Mr Bienkov...
You reference a number of items in your email.
The tweets from the MOPAC account and some photographs tweeted from the "Team Greenhalgh" account.
In re the tweets, I have looked into their origin and intention.. I am clear that the intention was not to promote but to inform and clarify. It has been indicated to me that, following Stephen’s announcement there had been some social media traffic directed to MOPAC seeking information about Stephen’s availability and activities in connection with his campaign, which MOPAC could neither know nor share; and that the tweeted information was merely intended to tell those seeking that information where, in a social media world, they might find it.
I do not therefore believe that there has been misuse of MOPAC resources
In relation to the photographs, firstly of Mr. Greenhalgh with Tfl Board members, I have looked at them and spoken to Stephen. It is clear that the photographs were taken in a public area of City Hall and having spoken to Stephen, I understand that the photographs were taken following informal encounters with individual members of the TFL Board. There is no indication that any City Hall or MOPAC resource has been used to produce or disseminate the images.
The photograph with the Police and Crime Commissioners derives from a meeting which Stephen held in City Hall for some colleague Police and Crime Commissioners. I and other officials were present for relevant items in the meeting, and my understanding is that a subset of those present were photographed on the balcony, and that one of those photographs was subsequently tweeted. Again, I have no reason to believe that this was other than an informal photograph which has been issued on personal social media.
I am grateful to you for drawing these matters to my attention
Helen Bailey, Chief Operating Officer, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime."
I replied to Helen Bailey, pointing out that she had not dealt with the key point that "no elections related photographs" are allowed to be taken anywhere inside City Hall. Here's her response: