Last year I introduced you to Murziline Parchment (right of the picture above), one of Ken Livingstone’s notorious City Hall “cronies” during his mayoralty. After losing her £126,000 job when Ken lost the 2008 election, Parchment popped up again in 2011 as “head of office” for Lutfur Rahman, the elected mayor of Tower Hamlets expelled from the Labour Party for his close links with Islamic extremism.
Parchment’s qualifications for this key role – which she got without a formal interview – were always questioned by many. Now there seems to be substance to those concerns. The great Ted Jeory has been leaked an earlier application she made, in 2009, for the chief executive’s job at Tower Hamlets council. And the assessment, by the council’s own headhunters, of her capabilities is devastating.
Parchment’s performance in interview and assessment is described by the headhunters as “very unconvincing,” “disappointing,” “lacking in substance” and “consistently unable to demonstrate the technical skills, gravitas or subject matter knowledge to undertake this role.” (Perhaps they said that last bit because she told them that Tower Hamlets was an “exemplary borough with a fantastic reputation.”)
Parchment’s own CV and supporting statement, also included in the leak, is perhaps almost as damaging. We learn that she “led the restructure of the London Development Agency so that the work was realigned to the Mayor’s priorities.” The restructured LDA, of course, became a career-killing scandal for Ken which was so “aligned to his priorities” that it was commonly described as his chequebook.
Tower Hamlets currently lacks a permanent chief executive – the post has been vacant for a year after the last incumbent walked out, presumably because he no longer wanted to be associated with Lutfur’s car-crash mayoralty. So Parchment appears to have assumed some of the responsibilities of the job for which she was so comprehensively rejected – including signing off rather large invoices submitted by another questionable Rahman crony.
And tucked away in her application is a little clue to part of her attractiveness to Mayor Rahman: Parchment says that she “assisted” the East London Mosque, the extremist-controlled body which backs Lutfur, to build its highly controversial business wing (this project, as I’ve previously described, got a massive grant from Ken’s LDA, despite furious opposition from the agency’s own officials.)
Under Lutfur and Parchment, Tower Hamlets has been doing some of the same sort of thing: attempting to turn the borough into a kind of mini-Livingstone City Hall, with Ken-style targeting of public money to favoured client groups. Will it be enough to buy Lutfur re-election? Watch this space!