In the absence of democratic accountability, conflicts of interest are inevitable. What is the connection between Michael Bear, head of a local authority in the heart of our capital, and Michael Bear, property developer for Hammerson? This question is especially difficult to answer when the local authority and Hammerson are working together on multi-million pound projects. It’s high time a clear light was shone on this murky world.
Many City of London councillors who are masons indicate their subscriptions to this boys club on their register of interests without specifying which lodges they belong to. Given the huge influence of specific masonic lodges on City politics, in the interests of transparency City councillors listing all the lodges to which they belong on their register of interests would be a huge improvement on the current situation. To give a specific example, while Bishopsgate common councillor Simon D’Olier Duckworth is a senior mason, he only indicates this involvement through listing ‘Masonic Charitable Foundation’ on his register of interests. This is not unusual and we are NOT suggesting that Duckworth has in any way failed to meet the legal requirements for his register of interests. Our point is rather that given the disproportionate number of masons from specific lodges at the top of the City of London council, the current legal requirements to do not go far enough.Read more "Is Simon Duckworth’s Register of Interests As A City Of London Councillor Transparent?"
Mark Field has long been known as the Invisible Man because of his unwillingness to engage with his constituents. When his majority was slashed in the 2017 general election he suddenly became slightly more visible and even vaguely interested in the issues that those who were entitled to vote for or against him wished to raise with ‘their’ MP. That said, after Field brutally assaulted Greenpeace activist Janet Barker last week and a video of the incident went viral, several media outlets still carried headlines that included the question “Who Is Mark Field?” However, the media don’t not know this MP the way his constituents don’t know him, because his aloofness and inaccessibility has long been a talking point among us. Until last week it seems Field had been largely operating beneath the radar of the press throughout his stint as an MP. That is apart from a headline grabbing 2005/6 love affair with fellow Tory MP Liz Truss (before she was elected to Parliament) and which ended with the first wife of this self-declared upholder of traditional values and civility divorcing him. The discrepancy between Field’s words and actions are neither failings nor quirks, they are embedded in the City of London culture of greed and entitlement that the MP is more effectively wedded to than any of his spouses.Read more "Mark Field & the City of London’s Culture of Misogyny & Entitlement"
The City of London police investigates economic crime in Britain and runs Action Fraud, a national reporting service. City of London police received almost £29 million in funding from banking and insurance trade bodies over the past five years in an arrangement that has been attacked as a “serious conflict of interest”. The force, Britain’s leading constabulary for investigating economic crime, received £17 million from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and a further £11.8 million from UK Finance, the banking industry group, between 2013 and 2018.Read more "Can City of London Police Effectively Investigate Economic Crime While Receiving Funding From The Finance Industry?"
We have previously addressed the opacity of a couple of council register of interest entries. Here we will deal with the same issue as regards Giles Shilson, a councillor for Bread Street ward. Despite the fact that he would appear to be a high flying freemason, Shilson failed to make an appearance in a recent Barbican Talk discussion that among other things attempted to work out the percentage of councilors who are masons – we suspect the figure mooted there is an underestimation. That Shilson is a freemason was not apparent to the City residents involved in this discussion because the way this is indicated on his register of interests is not transparent to many of those who do not belong to The Brotherhood, and will be seen by some as disingenuous.Read more "Giles Shilson, Freemasonry & Democratic Transparency at the City of London Council"
He may not have been to Eton or have a great grandfather and grandfather who’d been Lord Mayors of London like William Russell, but Tim Hailes is another perfect candidate for top office as far as the City of London establishment is concerned. Hailes has worked for J P Morgan since 1999 where he is a Managing Director & Associate General Counsel in the Legal Department. He’s also a liveryman, a freemason (most Lord Mayor’s belong to this men only club) and no longer a Tory student activist (he was as a young man). Since conservatives in the City stand as independents, and not all of them want to overtly display any political colours, those who don’t belong to the Tory party – even if they once did – can group around The Royal Society of St George. Timothy Russell Hailes, alongside quite a number of his fellow City councilors, is a member of this ‘minor English institution’.Read more "Tim Hailes & The Bizarre Twists & Turns of ‘Patriotism’ in the City of London"
The sparse low-key local and financial media coverage for this year’s City of London sheriff elections was utterly uncritical of this office. No one was even questioning why this feudal institution continues to exist in what is supposedly a modern democracy, let alone suggesting this office should be abolished. The very existence of the anachronistic City of London sheriffs, who are provided with space in the Central Criminal Court, tends to lead to those members of the public who are aware of them having their faith in the justice system undermined.Read more "Sack The City of London Sheriffs!"