Former London mayor Boris Johnson is to face questioning over his role in the Garden Bridge fiasco, the first time the London Assembly has ever summonsed a previous mayor.
Johnson, who is now foreign secretary, will get a grilling from the Greater London Assembly (GLA) oversight committee on 22 February after he refused to give evidence to Dame Margaret Hodge for her review into the value of the bridge.
As mayor of London Johnson was supportive of the scheme, estimated to cost more than £200M to design and build.
Around £50M of public funds was spent on the now-cancelled project, which attracted controversy for – among other issues – how the procurement process was handled.
Once Hodge had labelled the Garden Bridge scheme “poor value for money” for the taxpayer in April, mayor of London Sadiq Khan withdrew City Hall’s support for the project and it was officially canned in August.
“When Margaret Hodge appeared before us and explained that Boris Johnson did not participate in her review of the Garden Bridge Project, we realised that an important part of the story was not being made public. Dame Margaret did not have the power to formally request the former Mayor to give evidence, however the Assembly does have that statutory power,” GLA oversight committee chair Len Duvall.
“£37M of transport finance was allocated to a project which seemed to bypass proper appraisal, procurement procedures were not followed and the promised money from the Garden Bridge Trust did not materialise - leaving the tax payer to pick up the bill.
“So I think it’s only right that Boris gives us his side of the story. I know that Londoners are still very interested to know how the whole project got so far down the track, before the plug was pulled.”
Johnson has been contacted for comment via the Foreign Office.