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London Covid: Top London Conservative quits as policing chair over ‘rule-breaking’ Christmas party

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Former Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey AM has quit as chair of the London Assembly’s policing body, following revelations he attended a rule-breaking Christmas party last year.

The Boris Johnson-backed policing chair bowed to pressure after a week of calls for him to quit.

Calls for him to resign have become deafening after the Conservatives admitted last Wednesday that an event organised by Shaun Bailey’s then-mayoral campaign took place in the party’s Westminster HQ on December 14 last year – despite a ban on mixing between households in the capital.

Mr Bailey attended the party, held by his campaign team who were working in the basement at the time, the Times reported. Four of Shaun Bailey’s campaign staffers were subsequently disciplined by CCHQ.

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The party was attended by No 10 aides and featured dancing and wine-drinking into the early hours despite tough rules against indoor socialising at the time. London was in Tier 2 restrictions.

The senior Tory was due to chair this Wednesday’s police and crime committee – grilling Sadiq Khan’s team on its policing strategy.

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But Labour Assembly Members (AMs) were due to challenge Mr Bailey – in person – to stand down at the start of the session.

An email from the London Assembly, seen by MyLondon, says that City Hall Conservative leader Susan Hall AM will take over in the interim.

One AM told MyLondon Mr Bailey’s “silence speaks volumes”.

A GLA Conservative spokesman said: “Shaun Bailey AM has today stood aside as Chairman of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.

“He does not want an unauthorised social gathering involving some former members of the London mayoral campaign team last December to distract from the Committee’s important work holding the Mayor of London to account.

“He will continue to speak up for Londoners who no longer feel safe in our city and push for a strategy to tackle the disproportionate level of crime in London’s black community.”

Labour’s London Assembly policing lead Unmesh Desai AM said: “Shaun Bailey still has to answer questions put to him by the Labour group.”

Questions include who attended the gathering, and whether Mr Bailey received any gifts at the party.

MyLondon understands Shaun Bailey gave a speech to staff at last Christmas’ CCHQ party, and thanked them for their work. London Conservatives believe it was only after that this became a party. Mr Bailey does not drink.

City Hall Labour said Mr Bailey’s role as chair of the London Assembly’s police committee, which scrutinises the Met Police and the Mayor on crime, was untenable following the resignations.

In a letter to Mr Bailey, Acting London Assembly Labour chair Leonie Cooper AM writes: “Londoners will have read the allegations that you attended a party at CCHQ, organised by your campaign, on December 14 whilst Tier 2 restrictions were in place, and will understandably want answers.”

MyLondon understands that he failed to respond to the letter. At the time of writing, he has not tweeted since the scandal broke.

It’s the latest development in a fortnight of scandals for the Conservative party, over rule-breaching gatherings last year.

The PM has announced a Whitehall investigation into a Christmas bash at No 10 on December 18 – one of seven or more alleged parties while Londoners faced bans on social gatherings.

This is a breaking news story – watch this space for updates.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/london-covid-top-london-tory-22462463