Tory assembly member forced out of meeting after calling chair ‘deluded’

The row happened as members were debating ways to better scrutinise the Met Police, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Caroline Russell (left) and Tony Devenish (right)
Caroline Russell (left) and Tony Devenish (right)

A London Tory was sanctioned on Thursday (8th) after calling a City Hall colleague “deluded” and failing to apologise.

Tony Devenish, a Conservative on the London Assembly, said he was happy to withdraw the remark, which he had directed at Green member Caroline Russell during a public meeting.

But he did not explicitly apologise for having used the word, which led a majority of his colleagues to vote for him to “not be further heard” for the rest of the session.

The incident took place during a debate about the assembly’s scrutiny of the Met Police.

Devenish had put forward a motion noting “huge regret that the Met Police commissioner has all but withdrawn along with his deputy commissioner from regular attendance” at meetings of the assembly’s police and crime committee.

The committee is chaired by Russell, who insisted that the committee was working to ensure that the commissioner continues to regularly attend its sessions.

As she concluded, Devenish could be heard calling her “deluded”, prompting Russell to demand an apology from him.

When no apology came, Labour group leader Len Duvall called on assembly chairman Andrew Boff to “take some action”.

Boff invited Russell to finish her remarks. Liberal Democrat group leader Caroline Pidgeon then asked for details on how assembly members can be removed from the chamber.

Following an explanation from the assembly’s clerk, Boff asked whether Devenish would like to say anything.

Devenish said: “If you wish to do this chair, that’s absolutely fine. I’ve found working with Caroline so difficult during the year. I’m very happy to be removed, frankly.”

The chair said that removing or silencing Devenish should be “a last resort”, and asked him whether he admitted to using the word “deluded”.

He replied: “I’m happy to withdraw that word, chair.”

But Labour member Leonie Cooper said that this was not an apology. A motion for Devenish to “no longer be heard” was put forward by Green member Sian Berry, seconded by Pidgeon.

The assembly voted by 14 votes to six in favour of the motion, leading Devenish to walk out of the meeting.

Devenish’s motion – about the Met’s willingness to send senior officers to answer questions at committee sessions – was passed with 15 votes in favour and five abstentions.

Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley prompted concerns from within the assembly when he told them in September last year that he may have to attend its sessions less often, if his time is occupied by the new London Policing Board.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else. £84 annual supporters get a print copy by post and a digital copy of each month's before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly 

More Information about donations