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Hands off Veronica

Arts Council Chairman Dame Liz Forgan expressed reservations about Boris Johnson's nomination of Veronica Wadley, the former editor of the Evening Standard to an arts post. In a letter to Mick Elliot, director of culture at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Forgan wrote: “My conclusion is that the mayor’s intended appointment is based on reasons other than selection of the best candidate.” Her comments were quickly made public with the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw launching an attack on the nomination.

But Shadow Arts Minister Edward Vaizey has stuck up for Veronica. “It is quite clear that the chair of the Arts Council England, London is the Mayor’s appointment," he says. "Veronica Wadley is highly qualified, and Bradshaw has simply stepped in for political reasons. He has brought himself and his office into disrepute.”

Theatre critic Quentin Letts says he sees Veronica at the theatre far more than Dame Liz. But Ken Livingstone's supporters, without any sense of irony, are tutting about cronyism.

A couple of curiosities about Dame Liz's criticisms. One is that before arriving in Quangoland she was a journalist herself (having been Editor of Guardian Women's pages going on to work for the BBC and Channel 4) so if being a journalist is is not good enough for being Chairman of the London Arts Council why is it good enough to be chairman of the body nationally? Also both Veronica and Dame Liz went to Benenden, the prestigious girls boarding school. What about the old girls network?


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