There were sceptical sighs when the news was circulated that Nathalie Lieven had been chosen by the council to investigate what went wrong over the Koko planning decision, which was embarrassingly overturned in the High Court recently.
The blunder under the microscope here is how the potential effect on the long-standing nightclub of having a residential development right next door was not properly relayed to the councillors, who initially approved this recipe for neighbourly awkwardness.
Ms Lieven is a former Labour councillor, and in a whisper or two it’s been wondered how, in all of London, Camden could not find a planning expert without such a back story. After all, the council wants independent, fresh eyes on this, and is under pressure to work out what went wrong, and fix it quickly. The paper trail, however, does not suggest a case of Labour hiring Labour. The choice, by all accounts, came from the chief executive Mike Cooke, rather than the politicians.
“Ms Lieven is a barrister of the very highest integrity,” the council tells any mischief makers, asking about the link. “The fact she was a Councillor in the 1990s will not impact at all on her ability on her duty to make an independent assessment.”