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Lee Jasper (born 4 November 1958) is a British race relations activist, and politician who served as Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities to the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone until he resigned on 4 March 2008, and was the Respect Party's candidate for the Croydon North by-election in November 2012.
Early life and career
Jasper was born on 4 November 1958 in Manchester, Lancashire, to a mixed heritage family. His British-born mother being of Irish and Sierra-Leonean descent and his father Jamaican. He was raised in a working class home along with his mother and sisters until the age of eight, when he moved to nearby Oldham, where he remained until he was twenty-one years old. He left school without qualifications and went straight into work, engaging in a string of jobs in factories and warehouses in and around Manchester, also briefly running a market stall selling second-hand clothes. He returned to education as a mature student and gained a degree in social sciences from Manchester Polytechnic. Thereafter, he moved to London in 1985, where he worked at the Mangrove Community Association and became involved in the politics of the Notting Hill Carnival.
Over the next decade, Jasper became a race and human rights activist, sitting on many different committees and groups such as the Inner London Education Authority, the Metropolitan Police, and the Royal Commonwealth Society. Jasper was a witness at the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in his capacity as representative for the 1990 Trust. He was also a campaign group member of the Lawrence Campaign and claims credit for the intervention of Nelson Mandela in support of the Lawrence Campaign. Jasper also provided training for the Metropolitan Police in community issues. This role ceased in 1995 following the Brixton riots as some police officers blamed Jasper for a hardline speech that inflamed the crowd.
Jasper was the Chief Political Commentator for The Voice newspaper during the 2010 election. In 2010, he was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award by the NUS Black Student Campaign in recognition of his contribution toward challenging racism in higher education. In July 2010, he was awarded a Pride of the Motherland Award (Africa) at The O2 Arena by the National Consortium of African Student Societies.
Jasper is now a member of the Coalition of Resistance (COR) anti-cuts campaign. Along with Zita Holbourne, he currently co-Chairs Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC). He is also a political adviser to the 1990 Trust and a board member of Lambeth Police Consultative Group, but resigned as Chair of Brixton Splash amid some controversy.
Greater London Authority
Lee Jasper was appointed as Director for Policing and Equalities during Ken Livingstone's 2004–2008 term as Mayor of London. He was responsible for the development, enactment and promotion of equalities policies for the Greater London Authority (GLA) and had corporate responsibility for the development and delivery of anti discriminatory policies aimed at ensuring equality in employment practices and service delivery. He was also directly responsible for advising the Mayor on policing issues. He secured level 5 for the GLA, the highest level available for the Local Government Equality Standard; only a handful of public sector organisations have achieved this distinction.
Due to his role in the Greater London Authority, he played an important part at the European Social Forum hosted by the GLA in London in 2004. This caused some controversy, as there was disruption at the anti-racist session of the Forum. His strong criticisms of the disruption were in turn condemned by a small number of hard left wing groups as stifling dissent.
In late 2007, the London Evening Standard levelled a series of accusation at Lee Jasper of cronyism and corruption. Mayor Ken Livingstone suspended Jasper while investigations were subsequently carried out, but always maintained a belief in Jasper's innocence, stating: "I believe this investigation will exonerate Lee Jasper and show this to be a shameful campaign. As the interests of London are best served by putting an end to this malignant political charade I have concluded that a full police investigation is the most authoritative way to end this story once and for all." Although it was strongly recommended that improvements be made to the GLA's administrative procedures, Jasper was cleared of misconduct in January 2008 with the GLA asserting that: "The report has been issued today of the review of allegations of LDA corruption and collusion in improperly awarding funds made by the journalist Andrew Gilligan in the Evening Standard in a series of articles in December 2007. The report finds these to be unfounded. The charge of a 'tide of corruption' made by London Assembly member Richard Barnes in the Evening Standard on 13 December is therefore also false."
Jasper resigned on 4 March 2008 after the Evening Standard said Jasper had sent e-mails of an intimate nature to a woman involved with organisations who had received Greater London Authority grants and that Jasper has not declared the relationship. An Authority spokesman said, "Lee Jasper has stated that in light of material published today that he has tendered his resignation". However, Scotland Yard found that Jasper had "no criminal case to answer".
A GLA spokeswoman said: "The record of the GLA in dealing with racism in London has been outstanding. [...] The GLA is an exemplary authority achieving national recognition in the country in regard to equality and procurement. Lee Jasper played a leading role in regard to these, and no evidence has been presented for the criminal allegations presented by the Evening Standard."
Boris Johnson launched an extensive Forensic Audit Panel investigation to examine in detail all aspects of Jasper's decisions and actions while in office. That committee reported in July 2008 that Jasper had acted at all times within his remit as a Mayoral adviser, although the panel did express concern about two members of his staff responsible for the Carnival Showcase.
The most recent report, which was produced after a forensic 18-month independent investigation by the law firm DLA Piper and commissioned by the London Development Agency, examined all the fraud and corruption allegations made by the Evening Standard newspaper. The report published in June 2009 concluded that Jasper had not influenced the funding decisions of the LDA and that there was no evidence of fraud or corruption. However, it described Jasper's involvement in one body to receive funding to be "entirely inappropriate". According to a BBC report of the investigation, although Haworth-Maden said he found no evidence of fraud or corruption, he called for a number of administrative improvements at the GLA. His report found that Jasper failed to record declared interests to the "standards expected". He also found that Jasper's role in approving funding was "inappropriate given his interests" in a number of cases.
In November 2016 it emerged that Jasper had rejoined the Labour Party to support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, but a party source said the Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party was challenging his readmission.
- Dodd, Vikram (9 May 2000). "Key jobs: Profiles of mayor's race advisers". The Guardian. London.
- "By-elections: Labour retains three seats". BBC News. 30 November 2012.
- Obituary: Frank Crichlow, founder of Mangrove Community Association http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/obituary-a-tribute-to-frank-crichlow-founder-of-mangrove-community-association
- Pope, Steve (17 April 2009). "Why the black vote really can change the future face of Britain". Voice Online. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Mr. Lee Jasper Receives Life Time Achievement Award". Operationblackvote.wordpress.com. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk Coalition of Resistance
- Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC)
- 1990 Trust
- http://www.lambethcpcg.org.uk Lambeth Police Consultative Group
- http://www.brixtonsplash.co.uk Brixton Splash
- "Breivik and the right". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Close (19 October 2004). "Letters: Unwelcome anarchy at the European Social Forum | Politics | The Guardian". London: Politics.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- "UK Indymedia | Anti-Racist Groups Accuse Lee Jasper of Playing 'Race Card' re ESF". Indymedia.org.uk. 20 October 2004. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- "Mayor suspends funds row adviser". BBC News. 15 February 2008.
- London mayor's aide quits in funding row, Reuters, 4 March 2008
- Jones, Sam; Taylor, Matthew (4 March 2008). "Livingstone's race adviser resigns in cronyism row". The Guardian. London.
- "Mayor of London – Value for money: Report of the Mayor's Forensic Audit Panel" (PDF). London.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- Hill, Dave (3 July 2009). "The Standard and the LDA: sorrier still". The Guardian. London.
- Livingstone administration cleared over grant corruption charges
- Schofield, Kevin (22 November 2016). "EXCL Row after controversial former Ken Livingstone adviser rejoins Labour". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 22 November 2016.