Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor has fired his cabinet member for children and families, Zena Brabazon, apparently on the grounds that she failed to keep him properly informed about a recent child protection case in the borough.
In a statement, Ejiofor said: “The cabinet member for children, education and families is one of the most important briefs in the council and it is vital that I have full confidence that the member responsible understands the expectation that they must be fully informed of key issues within their portfolio.” He added: “It has become clear to me that Councillor Brabazon has different expectations around the importance of communicating key information between cabinet members and the leader of the council.”
Last month, a judge was strongly critical of Haringey social workers over to two children coming into contact with a paedophile with whom their mother was having a relationship. Ejiofor’s statement does not mention the case or the handling of it by Haringey staff. Rather, it stresses that the issue regarding Brabazon “was that the leader of the council should be fully informed about all independent assessments about the safeguarding service we provide for our young people”. Ejiofor told On London: “If my brother had done what Zena Brabazon has done, I would have sacked him too.”
In an email to Labour colleagues circulated yesterday, Brabazon said, “I have just had a conversation with Joe where he fired me from the cabinet. It has been a pleasure working with such brilliant officers in children’s services”. She promised “a fuller statement in due course”.
Ejiofor’s statement says Brabazon “declined the opportunity to take an alternative portfolio in the cabinet” and “delivered an ultimatum to ‘back me or sack me’.” Councillor Kaushika Amin has been made Brabazon’s replacement.
It is the second time Ejiofor has removed Brabazon from the cabinet inside 18 months. He had previously sacked her on New Year’s Eve 2018 from the different role of cabinet member for civic services, along with another cabinet colleague.
Brabazon’s previous dismissal by Ejiofor followed his emailing Labour councillor colleagues complaining about leaks of confidential information to the media. Announcing the double sacking, he said the changes were required in order to build “a cabinet team able to work closely together to deliver our manifesto”. Brabazon denied being involved in any leaking.
In May last year, she returned to the cabinet after being elected deputy Labour Group leader, ousting an Ejiofor ally. In line with Haringey precedent, Ejiofor than made Brabazon deputy leader of the council too, but retained the formal power to sack her from that position. Brabazon will continue to be deputy Labour Group leader.
Her latest sacking comes amid ongoing dissension within the Labour Group over Ejiofor’s leadership. Tensions have been heightened by his recent decision to postpone the council’s annual general meeting by a full year in the context of the coronavirus crisis, a move On London understands was against the wishes of a significant proportion of the Labour Group.
Postponing the council AGM, usually held in May, also entailed postponing the preceding Labour Group AGM, at which Ejiofor was widely expected to face a leadership challenge. Brabazon had sought the leadership following the last council elections in May 2018, but her Labour Group colleagues chose Ejiofor instead.
Brabazon’s latest sacking is the latest in series of departures from the cabinet since Ejiofor became council leader after Labour retained control of Haringey at the May 2018 council elections with a reduced majority. The administration was dubbed the “Corbyn council” by one local party member, due its political complexion being changed by a successful campaign by the pro-Jeremy Corbyn activist group Momentum and non-Labour allies, encouraged by the Guardian, to deselect sitting councillors not to their liking.
- October 2018: Ishmael Osamor, son of Edmonton MP and Corbyn shadow cabinet member Kate Osamor, resigned after pleading guilty to three charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply. He later stood down as a councillor as well.
- December 2018: Ejiofor sacks Brabazon and fellow cabinet member Peray Ahmet.
- March 2019: Cabinet member for finance Pat Berryman resigns, complaining that “imprudent” decisions had been taken “over my head”.
- May 2019: Brabazon elected deputy leader of Labour Group, ousting Ejiofor ally Emine Ibrahim. She is reinstated to cabinet and made deputy council leader. “Moderate” Elin Weston is sacked to make way for Brabazon. Ejiofor ally Noah Tucker steps down. Councillors Gideon Bull, Charles Adje and Seema Chandwani are brought in.
In August 2019, Brabazon, who is Jewish, complained that Bull had commented on her attitude to a housing scheme by means of a reference to Shylock, Shakespeare’s Jewish money lender character.
This article was updated at 17:05 on 8 June 2020 to include the statement and comment from Joseph Ejiofor.
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