Commenting on reports in the Architects Journal that Boris Johnson flew to San Francisco to lobby, alongside architect Thomas Heatherwick, for funding for the Garden Bridge before the TfL procurement process had taken place, Leader of the London Assembly Labour Group Len Duvall AM said:
“If these reports are true and the Mayor has been caught travelling to America on taxpayer money to promote Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge before the procurement process had concluded it would show the utter contempt Boris has for the rules which are specifically in place to prevent undue influence.
“What you've got is the Mayor clearly supporting the Heatherwick bid, indeed actually fundraising for it, before the procurement process had even been announced. There can be no doubt that the Mayor had a deep conflict of interests and that TfL's processes appear to have been undermined from the start.
"This debacle is increasingly looking like a scandal and we now need full disclosure. The Mayor, as Chair of TfL, appears to have undertaken activities in support of this bid which, when combined with the questions about TfL’s procurement process, increasingly look like an attempt to stitch up the procurement for a favoured architect and project. Particularly given its hard to believe there were no notes made of any of these meetings as the Mayor claims.
“For months we have tried to get to the bottom of this only for the Mayor to hide behind questionable claims that funding discussions were ongoing. Now that defence has been well and truly rebuffed the Mayor has no option but to come clean.
“Whilst the Garden Bridge is an excellent proposal, there are now so many questions about the procurement process that I find it hard to believe the project could continue with this kind of allegation hanging over it.
“Boris Johnson needs to start being entirely upfront about his role in the procurement process. We’ll be pushing him to come clean about exactly why he misled the Assembly, willingly or not.”