Thursday 13 February 2020 10:35 pm

Exclusive: Reform comes to City of London after 'inappropriate' questions asked of gay candidate

The City of London Corporation has revealed sweeping changes to the process of selecting the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs as part of a drive to increase the diversity of candidates.

The new system will include a more structured interview procedure, with independent representatives “closely” involved and an independent professional firm being brought in to observe proceedings for the first time in its 830-year history. 

A bigger pool of independent interview panellists will follow equality, diversity and inclusion rules, and all those involved in the process will be encouraged to take unconscious bias training.

The changes follow a review carried out by independent consultants last year, as exclusively revealed by City A.M. 

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said:“These reforms will ensure a more transparent and independent selection process.

“We are determined to ensure there are no barriers to any member of the community standing for the elected office of Lord Mayor.

“We aspire to be a leader in diversity and inclusion, and these changes will help us reflect the communities we serve across London and the UK.”

Earlier this year it emerged that Tim Hailes, who would have been the first openly gay person to hold the office, had been asked how he would prevent the role being “hijacked” by the gay community.

He was also asked how he would make up for a lack of “consort” at official engagements. 

One source told City A.M. the questions had been “inappropriate”.