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Picture_13This morning’s Independent on Sunday reports that Boris Johnson used public funds to pay the hotel bill for him and his entourage at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

Some are suggesting that this breaches section 6(b)(ii) of the GLA code of conduct which states that the mayor "must,
when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of your
authority,… ensure that such resources are not used improperly for
political purposes (including party political purposes)".

Whereas Ken Livingstone did attend the conferences of the various parties in his capacity as mayor, Boris Johnson did not go to the Labour or Lib Dem gatherings, fuelling the claim that his attendance in Birmingham last autumn was party political.

He has just appeared on BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme (presented today by Fiona Bruce) and defended his use of taxpayers’ money to pay the £1,955.25 bill.

"As far as I am aware, it is usual for mayoral delegations’ bills to be paid by the GLA… The mayor goes to party conferences and there’s no reason why his bill should not be paid by the taxpayer… I don’t believe it is proscribed by our rules of conudct… if it is I will certainly pay it back."

He went on to point out that it is only because he has opted to
publish details of mayoral expenditure over £1,000 – unlike the
previous administration – that he is being scrutinised over this
matter. "I’m delighted that our new regime of transparency has put that
on the record," he added.

The mayor also used his appearance on the programme to predict that
the campaign to oppose the third runway at Heathrow would be successful.

"I’ve no doubt we are going to be successful – this runway will not be built."

Describing
the airport as "a planning error of the 1940s", he also defended the
GLA contribution to the fund backing the legal challenge as "absolutely
right".

Boris also admitted that after hours he and his staff play table
tennis on a makeshift table in his office – made up of four desks being
pushed together and using books to create a "net".

Update: The Standard’s Paul Waugh picks up on his blog the comments Boris made about the economy.

Jonathan Isaby

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