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Dispute over brigade role

PUBLISHED: 15:02 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:54 24 August 2010

A DISGRACED politician who used charity funds to buy herself posh ballgowns could be at the centre of legal action to force her out of a major London authority. The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) is considering taking legal action against the decision to appo

A DISGRACED politician who used charity funds to buy herself posh ballgowns could be at the centre of legal action to force her out of a major London authority.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) is considering taking legal action against the decision to appoint Bertha Joseph as deputy chairwoman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).

Ms Joseph is currently suspended from her position as Kensal Green ward councillor after it transpired the two-time mayor of Brent solicited sponsorship for her charity ball from two businesses but splashed the cash on herself and declared it late.

Ian Leahair, FBU London regional executive, said: "She is not allowed to serve in her own ward so it seems perverse to allow her to sit on the authority where she makes important financial positions.

"If there was a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade that had been accused of what she was, they would have been sacked. It is double standards.

"We obviously have higher moral standards as there will always be issues that arise in the brigade but they are dealt with appropriately and that includes dismissing people.

"In regards to Bertha Joseph, I am wondering whether or not there would be a legal challenge coming. We have already put in a complaint to the monitoring officer but we have not heard anything back yet."

The LFEPA meet to decide the strategy, policy and the budget of the London Fire Brigade.

Despite being suspended from Brent Council, Ms Joseph is a borough member on the authority and takes home a basic allowance of £7,662.93.

As deputy chairwoman, the Conservative also pockets a Special Responsibility Allowance of £12,042 putting her total income from the post at £19,705.

Between January 2009 and 2010 she claimed almost £300 in travel expenses for the position, including £85 of cab journeys in just one day.

A Mayor of London spokeswoman said: "All the legal advice received by LFEPA clearly show that there is nothing to prevent Bertha Joseph from serving on the LFEPA board."

The spokeswoman refused to respond to inquiries about whether or not the mayor thought Ms Joseph was fit to stand on the LEFPA and if he did, on what basis.

She also refused to answer questions regarding the mayor keeping Ms Joseph on the LEFPA to ensure a Conservative majority.

Ms Joseph declined to comment.


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