London Assembly members have questioned the appointment of a Labour councillor to head a unit to reduce violent crime after it emerged she was part of the organisation that helped set it up.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan appointed Lambeth Council leader Cllr Lib Peck in January to head the Violence Reduction Unit, which aims to cut knife and gun crime in the capital by intervening in potential offenders’ lives at an early age.

During a meeting of the assembly’s police and crime committee meeting yesterday it emerged that Cllr Peck was part of the ‘Reference Group’ that helped to set up the unit.

The Reference Group is an organisation made up of councillors, representatives from the Greater London Authority, members of the police and people from the NHS.

Liberal Democracy Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon questioned the deputy mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden about the recruitment process.

It also emerged that in a final interview panel for the job, three out of the five people on the interview panel, already knew, or had had a previous relationship with Ms Peck, although Ms Linden confirmed members of the panel who knew Ms Peck had declared this.

Ms Pidgeon queried how closely involved Ms Peck was with members of the interview panel and the setting-up of the unit.

She said: “From the view of a member of the public it might not seem as open and transparent as you say.

“I had high hopes for this appointment and I was expecting a policing expert. I fear your appointment undermines that.”

Ms Linden said: “It was a rigorous process and we approached number people to apply. It was absolutely right that she was appointed.

“I think when the VRU is opened you will see her vast experience.”

Conservative Assembly Member Keith Prince also hit out at the appointment of Ms Peck.

Mr Prince said: “I don’t see any evidence of her being able to tackle crime. Khan has appointed a card-carrying member of the Labour party.”

Ms Linden insisted she had “absolute confidence” Ms Peck was the “right person for the job”.

She added: “I think Londoners will be more interested in whether she will get the job done.”

Ms Peck will step down as the leader of Lambeth Council to work as part of the unit, which has already had £6.8 million in investment from City Hall.