A former London mayoral candidate who was photographed with others at a mid-lockdown gathering at Conservative Party headquarters, and a high profile Tory mayor have been given peerages in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours.
Sean Bailey resigned as chairman of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee after a photo showed him posing with Tory aides while raising glasses beside buffet food when London was under coronavirus rules. Indoor socialising was banned in December 2020.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen is also among the seven allies who have been nominated for a peerage as part of the former PM’s long-awaited list.
Mr Bailey later apologised “unreservedly” for the event organised by his campaign team, and said it was a “serious error of judgment”.
In November, the Metropolitan Police said officers found “insufficient evidence to disprove the version of events provided by attendees”.
Mr Houchen said he was accepting the peerage as it puts him closer to Parliament’s decision makers, adding that “a place in the Lords is something I never imagined, dreamed of or asked for” and “Westminster is not my natural environment”.
In a statement on Facebook, he said: “As a member of the House of Lords, I will be uniquely placed as being your elected Mayor with a seat in Parliament.
“The additional powers I will be given to make and amend laws are something no other Mayor in the country will have.
“I see this role not as a distraction, but as an incredible opportunity to fight and deliver even more for everyone across Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.”
He told locals the peerage is a chance to promote the Levelling Up agenda for the region and to “sit amongst our law makers to talk up Teesside”.
He said the peerage is not a matter of personal gain, adding: “To me, this is not a matter of personal recognition, but recognition of the positive steps we are taking together to make Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool a leading region in our great Nation.”
Benjamin Gascoigne, a former deputy chief of staff to the ex-prime minister will enter the House of Lords alongside Ross Kempsell, a former political director of the Conservative Party.
Charlotte Owen, a former adviser to Mr Johnson, and Kulveer Singh Ranger, a former director of transport while Mr Johnson was London mayor, will also be elevated to the Lords.
Former No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield will also enter the upper chamber.