London’s Deputy Mayor, Shirley Rodrigues, is accused of trying to alter a Lancet study’s conclusion that found no health benefits for children from the city’s low emissions zone. The Telegraph has the story.
Emails seen by the Telegraph show that Shirley Rodrigues, London’s Deputy Mayor, asked if Professor Chris Griffiths, of Queen Mary University of London, could “reword” the study’s conclusion that found “no evidence” of health benefits to children’s lungs.
Ms. Rodrigues complained: “It reads like Lez (low emissions zones) or similar have no impact at all.”
In the private exchange from November 2018, Prof Griffiths refused the request, replying to Ms. Rodrigues: “Apologies – it’s difficult to alter the sentence you refer to as it’s what we set out to look for but didn’t find.”
The study was published unaltered the following day in the respected journal the Lancet Public Health, concluding: “Despite these improvements in air quality, there was no evidence of improvements in the proportion of children with small lungs or asthma symptoms over this period.”
The correspondence comes to light just days after the Telegraph revealed how Mr. Khan’s deputy tried to discredit and ‘silence’ Imperial College scientists, who found that the ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) had little impact on pollution.
Mr. Khan is pushing ahead with expansion of Ulez, which will charge motorists in all 32 boroughs £12.50 per day to drive polluting vehicles from August 29th.
Councillor Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Council which is fighting the Ulez expansion, called for Ms. Rodrigues to step down and said it was time for the Government to step in or give local authorities the power to block the scheme.
“These further emails show an industrial scale conspiracy with leading scientists to manipulate the debate on the Ulez expansion by inappropriate requests to reword independent scientific reports,” said Cllr Osborn.
“These Orwellian efforts to rewrite the facts mean that Shirley Rodrigues can no longer credibly remain Deputy Mayor of London, it’s time for her to go.”
London Conservatives described the latest emails as “revealing”, saying they showed ongoing interference into scientific research by the Mayor’s office in relation to emissions.
Peter Fortune, the Conservative London Assembly member for Bexley and Bromley, two of the boroughs which are also challenging the Ulez expansion, said: “It is unacceptable that Sadiq Khan’s deputy would tell scientists to downplay findings that are inconvenient for the Mayor.
“Scientific debate needs to be open and transparent, but as these further revelations show, the Mayor’s office has repeatedly sought to interfere and silence dissenting views.
“Both Sadiq Khan and Shirley Rodrigues have a lot of explaining to do.”