A senior editor of the Architects’ Journal has hit back at Boris Johnson after the MP criticised coverage of the abandoned Garden Bridge project.
In statements made to the Greater London Authority oversight committee on 1 March, Johnson accused the weekly magazine of publishing a “stream of abuse” at the people involved in the controversial £200m project.
The former London Mayor said: “The allegations of corruption and the insinuations have been really quite horrendous, and they have been connived at in a journal, the Architects’ Journal, which has published a stream of abuse of these individuals.
“As I understand it is motivated… by a dislike that the Architects’ Journal has, or the journalists concerned have, for Thomas Heatherwick, who is not conceived of as being a proper architect and is therefore somehow worthy of abuse.”
Johnson’s accusations were believed to be aimed at AJ managing editor Will Hurst, who has run an investigation into the project since 2014, when developers first submitted planning applications to Lambeth and Westminster councils.
Hurst published a string of exclusives exposing allegations of mismanagement before the project was abandoned last year, by which point £46.4m of taxpayers’ money had already been spent.
Hurst’s work has previously been mentioned in Parliament and he was awarded Infrastructure, Development and Construction Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards 2017 for stories including “TfL hit by Garden Bridge conflict of interest claims”.
In an open letter to Johnson, Hurst said: “You made very serious and unfounded accusations against the Architects’ Journal and its reporting on the Garden Bridge.”
He expressed his “shock and anger” at the “untrue and unfounded attack” on his professional integrity.
Hurst added: “I am happy to confirm that neither I, nor the AJ, has any grudge against the renowned non-architect designer Thomas Heatherwick.
“Indeed in 2015, more than six months after I began my Garden Bridge investigation, we handed him the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession award.
“I have carefully fact-checked everything I have written on the Garden Bridge and given companies and individuals subject to criticism full right of reply prior to publication.
“You, a former journalist yourself, apparently did neither of these things before launching your highly public assault on the reputation of myself and the AJ.”
Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay