Boris ‘not disputing King’s College London data’

London Mayor writes to reassure of “no threat, veiled or otherwise, to King’s College’s funding” after fallout over Oxford St air pollution

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has now said that he is “not disputing” King’s College London (KCL) air quality data, which was cited by one of the university’s scientists in reference to high levels of air pollution on Oxford Street.

In July, KCL’s Dr David Carslaw, was reported by the Sunday Times as stating that Oxford Street nitrogen dioxide levels were the “highest in the world” (see story), but Mr Johnson has previously refuted suggestions that the capital has some of the worst air pollution around the globe.

Boris Johnson says he does not dispute King's College London data regarding Oxford St air pollution

Boris Johnson says he does not dispute King’s College London data regarding Oxford St air pollution

In July, shortly after publication of the Sunday Times interview, Mr Johnson wrote on Twitter: “B*ll*cks: ludicrous urban myth. London air qual [sic] better than Paris and many other Euro cities- and go to Beijing or Mexico city…”

And, the Mayor’s advisor Mathew Pencharz also wrote to KCL last month stating that he trusted in future that “more rigour will be applied to public statements” (see story).

Campaign group Clean Air in London then suggested KCL’s funding from the Great London Authority could be in jeopardy as a result of the fallout, but, in a letter to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) dated November 3, Mr Johnson said this was not the case and dismissed the “baseless and unfounded accusations”.

Mr Johnson’s letter, published online by the EAC today (November 13), was written in response to the Committee’s chair Joan Walley MP who had sought reassurance from the Mayor that KCL’s funding was not under threat.

In the letter, referencing the correspondence between his office and KCL, Mr Johnson wrote: “As you can see, we are not disputing King’s College data but rather asking only that ‘in future more rigour will be applied to public statements’. It is worth noting that King’s College staff have told us that the way the original claim about Oxford Street was presented by the media was indeed erroneous but decided not to refute it publically.”


Mr Johnson added that there was “absolutely no threat, veiled or otherwise, to King’s College’s funding” and that GLA funding decisions are “not influenced by King’s research nor the way in which it is presented; in fact we are dependent on the college’s work for our policy development, implementation and to measure their effects”.

During a London Assembly meeting last week (November 6), KCL air quality scientist Dr Frank Kelly did speak publically about the fallout when he said the statement made by his colleague Dr Carslaw “still stands but I think it was misinterpreted — misreported by the press”, adding that the dispute was a “regrettable episode” (see story).


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