Boris adviser: We almost pulled funding for World Pride 2012

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff to London Mayor Boris Johnson, has told a committee that City Hall considered pulling funding for this year’s World Pride festival amid concerns about its viability.

July’s event had to be heavily scaled back after the organisers, Pride London, were forced to admit to a cash crisis just days before it was due to take place.

The chaos forced the departure of Pride London’s chair, Dr Patrick Williams, in the same month.

In the days prior, a last-minute financial rescue package by Gaydar and Smirnoff to provide additional cash failed.

It meant floats and other motorised vehicles were banned from taking part in the central London parade and several World Pride parties in Soho were axed.

At the time, Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell alleged that the mayor’s office tried to ban him from speaking at the Trafalgar Square rally, and also accused the mayor’s office of choosing not to rescue World Pride.

The accusations were strenuously denied by the mayor’s officials.

On Wednesday, the London Assembly held a meeting to discuss the failure of this year’s event.

Mayor Watch reports Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff to Mayor Boris Johnson, told a committee of Assembly Members that City Hall had considered downgrading or pulling its funding amid concerns about the event’s viability.

However, Sir Edward said the decision was ultimately made to support the Trafalgar Square rally, which included live performances by Boy George, when it became clear a march would still go ahead without or without support.

In October, non-profit community based organisations were asked to submit bids to run and develop Pride in the capital over a five-year period under a grant agreement worth up to £500,000.

Sir Edward confirmed that Mr Johnson was “very close” to naming a successful bidder.

The funding package will be “tapered” with more money available in the first year to support setting up a new delivery organisation, with City Hall expecting the event to become self-funding by the end of the five-year period.