Stephen Greenhalgh has been accused of molesting a woman in a lift. As the rumours started to swirl last night the Deputy Mayor for Policing first denied and then apologised for "anything that could be or may have been construed as inappropriate behaviour on my part". But then added he couldn't remember anything about it. Weird.
If he'd been sat across a table in a police interview room you can imagine how that might have looked to the investigating officers.
Labour has predictably issued calls for a full and immediate investigation with Labour bruiser Len Duvall thundering:
“The statement made by Stephen Greenhalgh is absurd. If he didn’t do anything wrong why did he apologise? Boris Johnson needs to get to the root of this immediately. It is completely unacceptable that someone in such a senior position cannot recollect whether such a serious incident occurred only a few weeks ago.”The Mayor has got an unenviable track record of losing Deputy Mayors in dicey circumstances and it appears our former council leader is now at risk of following that time honoured tradition. It's difficult to see how anyone responsible for policing could survive an investigation that found there was any truth to an accusation he already appears, by his own statement, to acknowledge may have some basis in fact.
“Stephen Greenhalgh is responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police and providing effective leadership for our capital’s police service. He is responsible for making sure the Met’s officers and staff maintain the highest standards whilst carrying out their public duties.”
“Regardless of whether a formal complaint is made or not this needs investigating. This is a serious matter that needs urgent clarification. If it remains unclear or unresolved then he should step down. I understand that this has been going on for four weeks, we need to know who knew what and when in the Mayor’s Office, Boris needs to establish what has been going on.”
Given Greenhalgh's aggressive and controversial start to his role, he is unlikely to find many friends fighting his corner.
|Tim Donovan reports on the Greenhalgh molestation story this evening|
And another reader points out that even the Evening Boris newspaper has reported the story - on the front page no less. When Boris' personal propaganda vehicle does that, you kind of get the sense that the ending to this story is only ever going to involve a resignation. Sad.
1900 UPDATE - Well, Greenhalgh does have a friend after all. Cllr Harry Phibbs has offered the above explanation for the Deputy Mayor's wandering hands, but I'm not sure it really helps his friend in need!
13.12.12 UPDATE - Predictably, perhaps, Boris faced questions over Greenhalgh at yesterday evening's "People's Question Time" event in Stratford. These events are usually stage managed by his chums to avoid too many awkward questions, as we saw in Hammersmith earlier this year, but this event was chaired by Labour Assembly Member John Biggs who, it's fair to say, has something of a personal dislike for the Great Man.
So with Boris on the backfoot he said that he'd "done what you'd expect me to do" adding that "there was no avoiding the publicity surrounding it" and that he'd ordered an investigation. Before underlining that no complaint had been made by the female staff member involved. I have the excellent Dan Freedman of LBC to thank for his intrepid reporting from the event for that.
Back in the Twittersphere a former Assembly Member, and one of the most controversial politicians in London Brian Coleman, didn't seem to have much sympathy for his party colleague. He put the boot in without mercy on his own blog.
Meanwhile a rarely seen Hammersmith councillor popped up on Twitter to add her backing for the embattled former council leader. Step forward Lucy Ivimy (above) to be especially withering about the allegations. Cllr Ivimy, lest we forget, was last prominent after she was involved in a race row for alleging that Indian people were more dirty than white people, and habitually threw their rubbish out of the windows rather than put it in the bin. With friends like these...