Sadiq's 'culture of cronyism' over Night Czar's drag act payment

6 February 2020, 09:50

Amy Lame is the Mayor's night czar
Amy Lame is the Mayor's night czar. Picture: PA
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

Sadiq Khan has been accused of presiding over a "culture of cronyism" at City Hall after LBC revealed his £75,000 a year night czar Amy Lame, was paid an extra £1,000 for her part in hosting a drag act to mark his 2019 borough of culture celebrations.

Lame has now agreed to make a donation to an LGBTQ charity of £1,000, less the tax she paid, after hosting the event at Walthamstow Assembly Hall in September last year.

Organisers described the one-off event as a celebration of "post-war pop culture, style, food, gender politics and aspiration" and charged a £15 entry fee.

But, it was also funded with a £70,000 grant from Waltham Forest Borough Council. That money, which came in large part, from a £1.3 million grant Sadiq Khan handed the Labour-run council after he named it his 2019 Borough of Culture.

Lame was then paid £1,000 freelance rate by Duckie Ltd. which she co-founded in 1995, after the company won the £70,000 contract with the council.

In effect Lame, as an appointee of the mayor has a salary of £75,000 a year, she was also paid an additional £1,000, out of a pot of money set aside in Sadiq Khan's culture budget.

But Ms Lame never declared that she had received the money in her register of interests at City Hall.

Now she has agreed to make a donation to an LGBTQ charity for £1,000, less the tax on those earnings.

Greg Hands who chairs Shaun Bailey's Conservative campaign to be Mayor of London, said: "It's part of a series of cronyism in City Hall where Sadiq Khan is giving contracts, in this case, via the London Borough of Waltham Forest, to people who are connected with him."

Mr Hands added: "Amy Lame is appointed by Sadiq Khan as his Night Czar.

"She also declares she is a member of the Labour Party. The way this operates leaves serious questions to be answered. It was an undeclared connection."

"Sadiq Khan needs to come out and say that he wants to end this culture of cronyism at City Hall. "

Lame agreed to make a donation to an LGBTQ charity for £1,000, less the tax she made on those earnings.
Lame agreed to make a donation to an LGBTQ charity for £1,000, less the tax she made on those earnings. Picture: PA

Tories in City Hall are also angry because Sadiq Khan has repeatedly blamed the Government for the surge in violence in London, citing a lack of funding for the police, and youth services.

Mr Boff told me the mayor should be focusing on dealing with crime in London.

"Is this the most appropriate use of taxpayers money when the streets are out of control?" Suggesting the money would be better spent on tackling knife crime.

A spokesman for the Greater London Authority - the body which represents the mayor and assembly members - told me Lame is no longer a director of Duckie Ltd, and was paid as a freelance contractor.

"Waltham Forest Council was solely responsible for choosing the organisations and groups it worked with as part of their London Borough of Culture programme.

"Amy was paid via Amy Lamé Ltd, a private company that is noted on her register of interests. Additional information is being added to provide further clarity."