Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry into a deal he signed with a Chinese firm to redevelop the historic Royal Albert Dock in London.
The Mayor of London is accused of having a cosy relationship with Chinese development company ABP which won the bid to develop the 35-acre publicly owned site, a Channel 4 News investigation has found.
An advisor to ABP has donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party, while a former head of London & Partners, which Johnson set up to attract foreign investment to London, moved to ABP while the tendering process was going on.
Taxpayer-funded London & Partners also pays 30% of the rent of some of ABP’s office space, the investigation found.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life told Channel 4 News: “It has the smell of a semi-corrupt arrangement, doesn’t it?”
“If, in fact, somebody is going through a sham process to ensure that someone they want to be successful in the process, but it’s not a level playing field for UK companies, and there have been some financial transactions of an intimate nature then that smells to me of a semi corrupt arrangement.”
However, Johnson had said the tendering process was fair, telling Channel 4 News: “The proposal to develop it and create a new business park seems to us to be very positive and I think it will be a very great thing for London. It will represent a significant investment in the city. It will drive jobs, drive employment, enable us to get homes built, because when you get jobs, you can get homes going.”
London & Partners chief executive Gordon Innes said: ”We believe that Channel 4 has not fairly represented London & Partners in its report tonight nor accurately reflected the statement we provided to the programme in its coverage in a balanced way.
“London& Partners was not a part of the decision making process nor sought to influence which company would be awarded the contract for the Royal Albert Dock.”
ABP is also accused of human rights breaches in China after people were allegedly forcibly evicted from property and their homes bulldozed with all their possesions inside. See more of Channel 4’s investigation.