Peter Jones
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London corruption
The fall of the House of Porter
in From virtue to venality
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The corruptions of Dame Shirley Porter, the Tesco heiress, and leader of Westminster City Council regarded by Conservatives as flagship council were not the only instances of corruption in London but they were the most sensational and they were regarded as gerrymandering. Her use of the right to buy scheme to gentrify particular electoral wards within Westminster City Council under the guise of ‘Building Stable Communities’ was judged by the District Auditor, John Magill, to be improper. Porter’s lack of political guile was exposed by Ken Livingstone and the new urban left. However, the Porter case was unusual: corruption in London stemmed from the immobilisme generated by the division of responsibilities between the London Boroughs and The Greater London Council. Prior to the Porter case corruption had embarrassed Labour in Whitechapel, Stepney, Lambeth and Haringey which were all Labour controlled and where local Labour leaders often acted in the style of T. Dan Smith as unaccountable political bosses. Porter’s disgrace caused her to leave the country and she fought a long legal battle without success to avoid the surcharge that was levied upon her.

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From virtue to venality

Corruption in the city


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