Editor labels Boris Johnson’s criticism of Architects’ Journal following Garden Bridge reporting an ‘attack on my professional integrity’ - Press Gazette

Editor labels Boris Johnson’s criticism of Architects’ Journal following Garden Bridge reporting an ‘attack on my professional integrity’

A senior editor of the Architects’ Journal has hit back at Boris Johnson after the MP criticised coverage of the abandoned Garden Bridge project.

In statements made to the Greater London Authority oversight committee on 1 March, Johnson accused the weekly magazine of publishing a “stream of abuse” at the people involved in the controversial £200m project.

The former London Mayor said: “The allegations of corruption and the insinuations have been really quite horrendous, and they have been connived at in a journal, the Architects’ Journal, which has published a stream of abuse of these individuals.

“As I understand it is motivated… by a dislike that the Architects’ Journal has, or the journalists concerned have, for Thomas Heatherwick, who is not conceived of as being a proper architect and is therefore somehow worthy of abuse.”

Johnson’s accusations were believed to be aimed at AJ managing editor Will Hurst, who has run an investigation into the project since 2014, when developers first submitted planning applications to Lambeth and Westminster councils.

Hurst published a string of exclusives exposing allegations of mismanagement before the project was abandoned last year, by which point £46.4m of taxpayers’ money had already been spent.

Hurst’s work has previously been mentioned in Parliament and he was awarded Infrastructure, Development and Construction Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards 2017 for stories including “TfL hit by Garden Bridge conflict of interest claims”.

In an open letter to Johnson, Hurst said: “You made very serious and unfounded accusations against the Architects’ Journal and its reporting on the Garden Bridge.”

He expressed his “shock and anger” at the “untrue and unfounded attack” on his professional integrity.

Hurst added: “I am happy to confirm that neither I, nor the AJ, has any grudge against the renowned non-architect designer Thomas Heatherwick.

“Indeed in 2015, more than six months after I began my Garden Bridge investigation, we handed him the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession award.

“I have carefully fact-checked everything I have written on the Garden Bridge and given companies and individuals subject to criticism full right of reply prior to publication.

“You, a former journalist yourself, apparently did neither of these things before launching your highly public assault on the reputation of myself and the AJ.”

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay



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2 thoughts on “Editor labels Boris Johnson’s criticism of Architects’ Journal following Garden Bridge reporting an ‘attack on my professional integrity’”

  1. Everyone who has some clue, knows “Corruption is endemic in local government”, so why should anyone pretend corruption can not happen in London ?

    I, and probably others too, would like Boris the Buffoon to explain in pubic where the “£46.4m of taxpayers’ money” has gone AND not only the justification for that expenditure but whether that wasting of public funds was any genuine and legitimate value for money.

    The bridge was a deliberate attempt, in my opinion, to waste scarce public funds whilst making some people rich, so it seems, certainly to me, at the public’s expense.

    Is the anti-EU nutter, a foreigner by birth (born in the US of A) – bet he is glad he wasn’t born in the Caribbean amid the Windrush babies – going to refund the £46 million ?

    Thank goodness the bridge has gone, hopefully, for good.


    1. Corruption in terms of nepotism is certainly something I have witnessed and experienced in London’s local and regional government. From friends doing each other career boosting favours (check out the nepotism on the Farrell Review, for example) or excluding otherwise high experienced professionals from participating in important decision making processes or influential positions such as review panels.

      It’s also worth noting that TfL has become an increasingly ruthless organisation since the 2007 recession. HR and management got a taste of power with laying off and restructuring and for many of them it’s a legitimate approach to management generally, not just a drastic solution to an unavoidable problem. TfL is also full of ambitious people and top heavy with managers constantly justifying their jobs. They almost constantly restructure and use under handed tactics to oust anyone not compliant or too expensive. I’m sure they would argue that this was a means to an ends but for those working in the rank and file and lower level management, it’s demoralising and very far from the optimisitic, professional and altruistic organisation that established under Ken Livingstone.

      In that context, I think Boris said make it happen and everyone did their best, even if it involved an appalling lack of professionalism. It seems that a lack of professionalism is acceptable at the highest levels of TfL now and it’s a shame.

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