Theo Paphitis dismisses Shaun Bailey's 'crackpot' drug testing plans

24 August 2020, 08:55

Critics have hit out at Mr Bailey's plans to conduct random drug tests on their employees
Critics have hit out at Mr Bailey's plans to conduct random drug tests on their employees. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Firms should conduct random drug tests on their employees, the Conservative London mayoral candidate has said but is facing criticism from businesses.

Dragon's Den and serial entrepreneur Theo Paphitis has dismissed drugs testing proposals by the Tory candidate for mayor branding them a "crackpot idea" adding that politicians have a habit of coming up with ideas but not following through on them.

"Clueless, absolutely clueless," Mr Paphitis said, adding that the only people the proposed plans would "punish" would be employers.

"So that in itself is a crackpot idea," he said referencing Mr Bailey's proposals to make public businesses which have a large number of drugs users.

When Nick asked him if he saw this as being potentially divisive he said at first he thought it was "another crackpot politician looking for free publicity, to launch probably a doomed campaign."

But, Mr Paphitis said looking at the proposal carefully he thought there could be a "very good point" here.

"It's a business point if you stop demand, then you will slow down supply," the entrepreneur told LBC.

"It's not practical," the business mogul told LBC's Nick Ferrari.

Providing his own solution the Rymans chairman suggested as the Mayor of London has responsibility for public transport then "test them there."

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Shaun Bailey has called for every business in the capital with more than 250 employees to sign up to a drug-testing charter - routinely checking workers for illegal substance use - with the results being made public.

Mr Bailey said this would help to identify middle-class cocaine users, who are fuelling the "explosion" of crime among poorer communities by purchasing drugs from criminals.

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In an open letter addressed to London's business leaders, he wrote: "This is a huge problem. Drug use is not only a crime in itself; drug use is a direct cause of crime, from county lines gangs to stabbings on our streets.

"When people buy drugs, they are funding the criminals who traffic vulnerable kids and unleash mayhem on our streets.

"So as mayor, I'll call for every business in London with over 250 employees to sign up to a drug testing charter."

Mr Bailey, 49, who grew up in a council house in Ladbroke Grove, west London, was a youth worker with gang members for 20 years.

"The purpose of this charter is not to get employees fired or shamed. Individual results will be anonymous," he said.

"The purpose is to change our culture. City Hall will publish an annual league table showing which companies have the highest and lowest rates of drug use.

"Because... the way to start tackling a problem is to shine a light on it."