A Bexley councillor who was present at the December 2020 Christmas party held in breach of Covid rules by now former Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has left the Bexley Tory group to sit as an Independent.
Adam Wildman, whose presence at the event was captured in a photograph obtained by the Mirror, had previously been rebuked by the council’s majority Conservative group, which last month described itself as “shocked and very disappointed” by the report of Wildman’s involvement and said it recognised and shared “the anger it has caused”.
His departure from the group took place subsequently and is understood by On London to have been his own decision.
Wildman, who deleted his Twitter account after the Mirror’s exposé, has been referred to online as the Bailey campaign’s political director. In his own Linked In profile, which has become unavailable in recent days, Wildman described himself at the time of the photo’s emergence as a Conservative Party “political director” until May 2021, when the mayoral election took place, and as director of management consultancy company Wellington Strategy until the same date.
He listed his main job since May 2021 as a full time associate director of public relations firm Teneo, though his name appears to not currently be mentioned on the Teneo website. Wildman was the London Assembly Conservatives’ chief of staff from December 2016 until January 2019. Bailey became an Assembly Member in May 2016.
In its statement following the emergence of the photo, the Bexley Conservative group said that Wildman had decided earlier last year not to defend his Blendon & Penhill council seat in the coming May’s borough elections. The council website says he continues to chair its pensions committee, a position was given last May, and to perform some other roles.
After news of the party broke, the Conservative campaign headquarters, where the party was held, said disciplinary action had been taken against four members of staff who had been seconded to the Bailey campaign in relation to what it called the “unauthorised social gathering”.
Bailey’s mayoral campaign drew criticism at the time the party was held for distributing a leaflet mocked up as coming from City Hall and containing a supposed threat from Sadiq Khan to impose a huge council tax rise.
The Bailey campaign also used material claiming to present damaging “facts” about Transport for London’s financial position without making clear who was behind it and also falsely claimed that if elected Khan would impose a daily £5.50 “tax” on “anyone driving into Greater London”.
The truth was that TfL had suggested to the government in January last year that a boundary charge of £3.50 – or £5.50 for the most polluting vehicles – might be levied on motor vehicles registered outside Greater London each time they drove in as a new source of funding. Transport secretary Grant Shapps ruled out the idea last February, but the Bailey campaign continued to make the false claim right up until last May’s election day.
Bailey resigned as chair of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee after the December 2020 party was revealed. The Assembly Tory group has described itself as “deeply disappointed” by the emergence of the photo of the event. Bailey later apologised for “attending a gathering held by some of my staff in my campaign office”.
Adam Wildman has been contacted for comment.
Photograph of Adam Wildman from Bexley Council website.
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