Londoners deserve better data: an open letter to Boris Johnson

8 May 2012

Dear Boris,

Congratulations on your recent re-election as Mayor of London.

During Mayoral questions on 23 March last year, you told the London Assembly that "public trust in statistics is critically important in a democracy".

As you will know, however, during the recent campaign candidates from the major parties were criticised - most often by one another - for their inaccurate use of statistics. The public was given contradictory information on crime levels, transport fares and house building in the capital, with few channels to sort the accurate claims from the inaccurate.

Full Fact has itself found problems with statistics used by the GLA and political campaigns that wouldn't have been acceptable in national government.

Problems such as these are symptomatic not of deliberate misuse for party political ends but of the lack of a solid and reliable source of statistics that all parties can agree upon.

It is within your power to provide Londoners with trustworthy statistics, backed by the UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice. This could dissolve such confusion by providing a benchmark for fair, accessible, transparent and independently-evaluated information.

It is an enduring matter of concern that the Greater London Authority, unlike Ministers in central government and in devolved administrations, is not subject to the Code of Practice. Full Fact believes this can only be harmful to the public's trust in statistics published, reported and used by your administration.

The former Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, wrote to you last year inviting you to adopt the Code. Your recent statement to the London Assembly on 22 February this year indicates the question is up for review. We would be grateful for details of the timeframe of the review and for an opportunity to contribute.

I hope that you will personally support this important measure in delivering the best standards of information to all Londoners.

Yours sincerely,

Full Fact

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.