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  • Boris Johnson coy over his EastEnders’ fee

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 admin 1 comment

    When Boris Johnson appeared in EastEnders I realised the clash of two public authorities was too good an opportunity to miss.

    The BBC, forever hiding behind its “artistic and journalistic derogation” has never given out any info on its most famous soap.

    Despite the theatrical nature of the new London mayor “BoJo” cannot avail himself of the same get out clause, so I was hoping to use City Hall as my entrance ticket into the murky world of EastEnders.

    I basically asked for everything City Hall held on Boris’ appearance on the show and I received (15 days late) a very complete record of e-mails that bounced around between the two organisations.

    But what I didn’t get were two e-mails that related to how much the fabulously wealthy Eton-educated Boris got paid for his brief appearance.

    The e-mails from the Beeb say that everybody who appears on the show has to be paid and Boris’ team seem happy with that and agree the cash should be donated to charity.

    At that point one would think there was nothing controversial about the matter – but City Hall refuse to release the charity or the amount claiming S.43 (commercial interests).

    City Hall says in its response: “The two e-mails covered by the request constitute commercially sensitive information.

    “The detail and naming of the charity involved in way of receiving the appearance fee for the Mayor’s appearance in EastEnders would be likely to be detrimental to the charity itself as information within the e-mails is not factually correct.”

    It goes on: “In this case disclosure of this information would be likely to have a detrimental impact on the reputation of the charity in receipt of funds apportioned from the Mayors appearance fee from appearing on EastEnders due to the inaccuracy of some of the facts contained within the e-mails.

    “The degree of prejudice to be suffered is likely to be far-reaching to a third party given in particular it is a charity and less likely to have the resource available to cope with the adverse publicity, therefore having a great impact on their commercial interests.”

    What is amazing about this decision is the fact that disclosure appears to have been blocked based on the fact there are errors in the e-mails – which is no excuse for non-disclosure. My understanding is they should be released with adequate commentary explaining what in them is wrong.

    Also I wonder what charity he decided his fee should go to? (Any suggestions please mail them in). But why be so coy about where the money was directed to? And surely there is a public interest in knowing where he wanted the fee to go to, considering his cameo in EastEnders only came about by virtue of his public office.

    You won’t be surprised to know that I’m in the process of appealing it – and I also hope they refuse again and make an issue out of it.

    For those that missed Boris lock horns with Peggy at the bar of the Queen Vic I’ve added the clip from YouTube.

    UPDATE: I managed to unearth a story from the e-mails that were sent through.



    UPDATE: 4.2.10: My appeal to the GLA was successful. On review they accepted that S.43 was not applicable as here we were talking about a charity and not a commercial organisation. Boris’ fee from the Beeb was £362 and he passed it straight on to Friends of Classics, a charity devoted to keeping Latin and Greek ‘flourishing in our schools’.