Should we be worried City of London CEO running ‘Gold’? #Grenfell #transparency


As the Daily Mirror observed on Monday, Kensington and Chelsea council has – unsurprisingly – been relieved of any responsibility for the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy:

mirror rbkc relieved

The Mirror also mentioned, in passing, that the Gold Command that has taken over the operation is headed by Chief Executive of the City of London John Barradell, but without any further comment on the matter.

But should survivors and local residents be concerned at this development?

Theresa May spoke in Parliament about the urgency of restoring the faith of those affected by Grenfell – and the wider population – in government and distrust of authority is a serious issue for those hit by the fire and its aftermath.

But the City of London’s (CoL) involvement in the operation raises serious questions about levels of accountability and transparency – because it has few obligations to either and a long history of exploiting its special status to avoid them.

Few people may realise the CoL’s special status in British law and democracy. It is a corporation – one which boasts it is the oldest continuous municipal institution in the world and is far older than Parliament. It is both a city and a county – the only one in the UK in which businesses can vote. In fact, the voting power of businesses dwarfs that of the City’s 7,400 human residents (as of the 2011 census).

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Arcane laws, institutions and ceremonies – the City of London

It is also alleged, by a 2016 Guardian article, to be a closed, habitually secretive corporation with arcane powers, riddled by corruption and beyond the authority of Parliament, in which even attempting to take a picture of a building will meet with a strong response by armed guards:

The opacity and complexity are not accidental, and do a lot to serve the interests of [the City as a financial entity], which is, among other things, the world’s leading centre for offshore capital, much of it stolen, much of it hidden from all governments and tax regimes via the use of trust mechanisms…

It’s difficult to stress just how opaque, how closed off, this system is. Anyone can prove this for themselves by going anywhere in the Square Mile, standing in front of a building and taking out a camera. Within seconds, a security guard, or guards, will come out and ask you to move on. The requests will rapidly escalate in force…

to many observers the City also has a predatory, antagonistic relationship with the rest of the UK’s body politic. The City has its own form of democracy, one in which the majority of votes are controlled by corporations rather than by individuals. It is both a city and a county; it has its own police force

Hardly an organisation whose involvement you’d expect to be invited by a government with any serious intention of ensuring a transparent and accountable process – nor to be welcomed by residents who feel that the terrible toll they suffered last week has resulted from the Establishment’s contempt and lack of concern for them and their neighbourhood.

There is no indication that anything untoward has taken place. But that’s the crux of the problem. Even if anything was untoward, we’d be highly unlikely ever to find out.

That’s not news that will reassure the survivors, families and neighbours of the Grenfell Tower disaster or increase their trust in the authorities and their expectation of justice.

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  1. There’s some context on the GRT Facebook page – “About”.

    showing that while Mr Barradell may be the Chief Executive of the City of London, the GRT has a wide membership from London-wide local and regional government, central government, British Red Cross, Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.

    In other words the City of London Corporation isn’t running the response team (although they have of course secured the so called luxury flats for rehoming.) Mr Barradell’s involvement looks more like a secondment.

    So the answer to the question posed in the headline is “probably not”.

    As an aside to the earlier “forced relocation” stories the same Facebook page has just posted this:

    “Affected residents will not be placed into tower properties. The council is working to place affected residents within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea or neighbouring boroughs.”

    1. All because you can read an about facebook page common? You pop up the moment anyone says anything about a Tory, are you paid by head office or just love stirring the pot for free?

      You offer no proof of your assertions just the normal nothing to see here Tory cover-up and smear routine. I bet he is not a friend to the people who really matter in this disaster, remember them the victims?

      1. I actually pop up when I think the story is weak or even just wrong. If that is “pot stirring” so be it.

        As I’ve said elsewhere the articles are open for comments, and nowhere have I seen any suggestion from the author that only favourable comments are allowed (Although one of mine has been “awaiting moderation” for 6 days!)

        I don’t know what Mr Barradell’s political affiliations are.

        The Facebook “About” page is merely an expansion of the description of the GRT given in the very Daily Mirror article referenced by Skwakbox himself.

        The point is that (except perhaps for the purchase of the 68 flats) the City of London Corporation is merely (if it is at all) a member of a much larger grouping – I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that they control it in any way.

  2. Whatever the reason for choosing the City of London to assume primacy, John Baradell has form.

    This can be seen in its full glory here within a wide ranging survey of compromise agreements containing gagging clauses:


    When CEO of Brighton Council, Baradell oversaw the gagging of more employees (including whistleblowers) than any other council in England. That record speaks for itself.

    Yes, I can see what the Tory thinking is here… “Let’s choose a safe pair of hands.”

  3. Bloody hell – I didn’t realise that ‘City of London’ is a corporation!!! A dæmon hiding in plain sight!!! That’s shocking! Corporate control of democracy is NOT democracy. By definition – democracy literally means ‘power to the people’:

    “demo- (“people”) +‎ -cracy (“rule”)”

  4. They look like a load of undertakers….And that one on the left – Get the eyes – just plain weird.

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