London Development Agency: trying to spin its way out of trouble

Up for a 6:15am pre-record with the Today programme this morning – about the allegations of corruption and misappropriate funds hanging over the London Development Agency. It’s turning into quite an involved saga, with a whole host of allegations – but the latest twist is very simple.

The LDA carried out an investigation, but it wasn’t thorough – and was then misrepresented in the LDA’s own press release as giving the body a clean bill of health.

The LDA’s press release on the results of its internal investigation doesn’t leave any room for doubt as to what they wanted people to think: “Allegations of LDA Corruption False” and the first paragraph is equally bullish: “The report has been issued of the review of allegations of LDA corruption and collusion in improperly awarding funds made by the journalist Andrew Gilligan in the Evening Standard in a series of articles in December 2007. The review finds these to be unfounded.”

Now, if only that was the case! In fact, three of the allegations were passed to the police to look into, a fourth is already under police investigation and it looks like a fifth will end up with the police too. That’s not the picture you’d expect when phrases like “unfounded” are being used, is it?

Then there’s the case of Brenda Stern – who lost her job after speaking out. Was she sacked for whistle blowing on financial scandal? That’s an episode that needs serious investigation – but the review didn’t even interview her.

There’s more in today’s Evening Standard, including this damning quote from her:

“The schedule of allegations published with the review claims I never complained of losing my job for raising concerns about one of the projects. I most certainly did make that complaint and I am very surprised indeed that the LDA claims to have investigated this project without even trying to contact me.”

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