Shaun Bailey party photo: who is the former London Mayor candidate - why has he resigned from assembly role?

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Shaun Bailey has been pictured alongside Tory donor Nick Candy at a Christmas gathering from December 2020

Shaun Bailey, a former Conservative London Mayor candidate, has officially stepped down from his role in the London assembly.

The news came shortly before a picture of him attending a “raucous” party in December of 2020, when Covid lockdown restrictions prohibited indoor social mixing, was released.

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The party in question took place before the infamous Downing Street Christmas party and the Downing Street Christmas quiz.

This is what you need to know.

Who is Shaun Bailey?

Bailey is a British politician and a former journalist, born in May 1971 in North Kensington.

He attended Henry Compton School in Fulham, and at 12 years old was sent to the Army Cadet Force in White City by his mother. At around 19 years old, he was given the title of Sergeant-Instructor, and he would stay in the Cadets for another 10 years.

After he left secondary school, Bailey enrolled at Paddington College and then London South Bank University, where he graduated at the age of 27 with a degree in computer aided engineering.

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In 2006, Bailey co-founded the charity MyGeneration which aimed to address the social problems that affected struggling youth and their families. Shortly afterwards, Bailey was selected by the Conservative Party to stand in the Hammersmith constituency, in West London.

Shortly before the picture was released, Bailey stepped down from his London assembly role  (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Shortly before the picture was released, Bailey stepped down from his London assembly role  (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Shortly before the picture was released, Bailey stepped down from his London assembly role (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Bailey was unable to secure a seat in the 2010 general election, and in the run-up to the 2015 general election he was unsuccessful in his efforts to be chosen as the Conservative Party candidate for Kensington, Croydon South and Uxbridge South and Ruislip.

He has written for newspapers like the Evening Standard, the Times and the Independent, and in 2011 was appointed as one of David Cameron’s Ambassadors for the Big Society. The following year, he became special adviser to then Prime Minister David Cameron on issues like youth and crime.

In 2015, Bailey was chosen as the third Conservative candidate on the London Assembly top-up list and was Deputy Leader of the Conservative Greater London Authority Group before being selected as the Conservatives’ Mayoral candidate in 2018.

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While the outcome was closer than what polls had predicted, Bailey lost out to current London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Why has he quit his London assembly role?

Bailey stepped down from his London assembly position after he had been approached by the Mirror regarding a photograph that had been obtained from the party last December.

Alongside Bailey, the picture included more than 20 other party attendees, including Tory donor Nick Candy.

A Bailey campaign spokesperson told the Mirror: “On the evening of 14 December 2020, at the end of the working day, the campaign hosted a post-work event to thank campaign staff for their efforts of the course of the year.

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“This was a serious error of judgement and we fully accept that gathering like this at that time was wrong and apologise unreservedly.”

The event in question has been described as ‘a serious error of judgement’ by a Bailey campaign spokesperson (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)The event in question has been described as ‘a serious error of judgement’ by a Bailey campaign spokesperson (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The event in question has been described as ‘a serious error of judgement’ by a Bailey campaign spokesperson (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images) | Getty Images

A statement from the GLA Conservatives confirmed the news of Bailey’s resignation on Tuesday (14 December).

It said: “Shaun Bailey AM has today stood aside as chairman of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.

“He does not want an unauthorised social gathering involving some former members of the London mayoral campaign team last December to distract from the committee’s important work holding the Mayor of London to account.

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“He will continue to speak up for Londoners who no longer feel safe in our city and push for a strategy to tackle the disproportionate level of crime in London’s Black community.”

In a previous statement admitting to the party, a Tory spokesperson said: “Senior Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) staff became aware of an unauthorised social gathering in the basement of Matthew Parker Street organised by the Bailey campaign on the evening of December 14.

“Formal disciplinary action was taken against the four CCHQ staff who were seconded to the Bailey campaign.”

While Bailey has stepped down from his role, he remains a member of the committee and the London Assembly.

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What has the response been like?

Following the news of Bailey’s resignation, Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “Boris Johnson is too weak to lead.

“The public is safer thanks to Labour putting people’s health before party politics.

“The Prime Minister needs to take a long, hard look at himself and ask whether he has the authority to take this country through the pandemic.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner also said: “This is damning new evidence of a party, with a buffet, drinks, Christmas attire and absolutely no social distancing held at Conservative Party HQ.

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“Shaun Bailey is an elected official that is clearly breaking Covid regulations in this photo and encouraging the same of his staff.

“Whilst everyone else was making sacrifices to keep their community safe, the chair of the Police and Crime committee in the Greater London Authority was partying.

“His position as chair was untenable and he knew that.”

Angela Rayner called the photo ‘damning’ (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)Angela Rayner called the photo ‘damning’ (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)
Angela Rayner called the photo ‘damning’ (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said the newly-revealed photo showed “just how rotten Johnson’s Conservative Party has become”.

She said: “The image of Bailey and his mates living it up at Conservative HQ while the British public were locked down and the NHS was saving lives, is another punch to the stomach to everyone who followed the rules.

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“From No 10 to Tory HQ, the slew of rule-breaking revelations show that Boris Johnson has set a very low bar for standards within his party and his presence in Downing Street is eroding public trust.”

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