The new London assembly chairman, Tony Arbour, has committed to challenging purdah rules.

Mr Arbour believes the rules, which apply during the pre-election period, are “heavy handed.”

During purdah, civil servants – including anyone working for the Mayor of London and London Assembly Members – are not allowed to publish material which might bias voting in the local election process.

During purdah all meetings at City Hall, headquarters of the Greater London Authority, were closed to the public and press, even though the elections took place in the boroughs rather than at London assembly level.

These rules are applied to all political bodies however it is the GLA Monitoring Officer at City Hall who interprets and enforces these rules for members of the London Assembly.

Mr Arbour said: “I know various members across all parties have spoken about the heavy-handed approach to the purdah rules at City Hall.

“Many assembly members feel like the interpretation of the rules is just plain wrong.”

In April this year, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, held an emergency summit at City Hall which look at how to tackle a surge in serious crime in the capital after the murder rate rose above 50 at the time.

However, no members of the public or press were allowed into the meeting under purdah rules.

Mr Arbour condemned this, saying: “We believe that what happened in April was wrong.”

He added that he would be challenging purdah rules and raising the issue with the GLA Monitoring Officer.

Throughout purdah many assembly members express concern about the press restrictions.

Keith Prince, Conservative London assembly member for Havering and Redbridge, argued that in matters concerning the Mayor of London and the London assembly there should be as much press freedom as possible.”

Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly for Barnet and Camden said: “I think Purdah rules are too strict. It’s ridiculous that we can’t have any press coverage.”

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat assembly member added to the debate saying: “The rules relating to Purdah during London Borough elections need to be reviewed and updated.”

The only member of the assembly who was in “full support” of press restrictions during purdah was Caroline Russell, Green Party assembly member.