The Scoop

Boris sorry after aide sparks Bryan Ferry cash furore

Darryl Chamberlain | Tuesday 14 June, 2011 13:31

Bryan Ferry

Mayor Boris Johnson’s office has apologised after an aide accused a London council of using taxpayer’s money to fund a concert by Bryan Ferry at the O2.

Director of marketing Dan Ritterband claimed Greenwich Council had been due to pay up to £60,000 to the former Roxy Music frontman to perform at the opening ceremony of a sports industry convention.

But Greenwich denies it – and insists the money was due to come from the mayor’s budget instead.

City Hall maintains that it wasn’t using taxpayers’ money for the show either – but has apologised to Greenwich for Ritterband’s comments.

Ferry had been due to play at the opening of the Sport Accord convention at the Indigo2 venue in Greenwich in April – but the 65-year-old had to pull out because of illness.

At a London Assembly budget meeting last week investigating how much the mayoralty had spent on Sports Accord, Ritterband came under questioning from Labour’s John Biggs and Conservative Brian Coleman on the concert.

After Coleman said that he had been assured by Ritterband and Boris Johnson’s press chief, Guto Harri, that the mayorality would “no longer pay celebrity appearance fees out of public money”, Ritterband said Greenwich had offered to pay the money.

“It was Greenwich Council and [O2 owner] AEG who decided to get together, and it was their offer to put on the opening ceremony,” he told the meeting.

“So potentially, the people of Greenwich might have something to say about that,” he added.

“As far as the GLA money goes, that was not used on the opening ceremony. A part of Greenwich taxpayers’ money would have been going to pay for Bryan Ferry, but that wasn’t our call, that was the people of Greenwich.”

On the web recording of the meeting (watch 28 minutes in), an unidentified voice can be heard saying: “More fool them.”

But Greenwich is adamant it was not due to pay any money – and insists the GLA was contracted to pick up the tab.

“Greenwich Council did not spend any money on Bryan Ferry, nor any other entertainer, for the Sport Accord opening ceremony held at the IndigO2 on 5 April 2011,” a spokesperson told The Scoop.

Indeed, Greenwich points to a clause in the contract for the event which specifically states that neither it nor AEG were due to pay any money. It concludes: “All event costs shall be borne by the GLA.”

A spokesperson for the mayor told The Scoop: “In order to meet the costs of hosting this vital event, sponsorship worth more than £440,000 was secured by the Mayor, a proportion of which funded entertainment at the opening ceremony, which was generously hosted by AEG and Greenwich Council at the O2 Arena.

“None of the budget for entertainment was picked up by the taxpayer and we apologise to Greenwich Council for any confusion caused. The GLA and Mayor are extremely grateful to all the sponsors for supporting the SportAccord.”

City Hall said the conference, which saw almost 2,000 of the world’s top sporting officials, IOC members and business leaders meet, was estimated to add £3 million to London’s economy.

It’s not the first time Dan Ritterband has talked his way into trouble at the London Assembly. In 2009, he was thrown out of a meeting after claiming members were not listening to him.

(Story updated at 4.35pm to include comment from the mayor’s office.)

Wednesday, 12.55pm: Dan Ritterband has also now apologised to committee chair John Biggs – read his letter here.

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Darryl Chamberlain

About this writer

Darryl Chamberlain

Darryl writes Greenwich's 853 Blog and contributes to the Charlton Champion.

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