Former Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor, figurehead of what was dubbed the “Corbyn Council”, has been barred by the Labour Party from standing in May’s council elections.
The move came just hours before Labour began selecting candidates for May’s borough elections today, with Ejiofor’s appeal against the decision having been rejected on Saturday. “The London Regional Labour Party removed me as a Labour candidate yesterday,” Ejiofor himself has confirmed on Twitter.
The action is thought to relate to a highly critical Local Government Ombudsman report published last month into the handling of a proposed housing development, which has prompted a police investigation.
The Ombudsman directly criticised Ejiofor over his involvement in plans to develop a site in Muswell Hill centred on the former Cranwood nursing home, which originally included demolishing a number of neighbouring houses. Most of them are council-owned, though one was bought from its owner by Haringey for more than £2 million.
Ejiofor then chose not to proceed with knocking down the homes, a decision the Ombudsman described as “flawed” and with the result that “that expenditure had been for nothing”. The report also said the homeowner affected had not been treated with “even-handedness”.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed today that enquiries were continuing into “allegations of fraud received in March 2021 that relate to a housing development in Haringey”. No individuals were named.
Current Haringey leader Peray Ahmet, who ousted Ejiofor last May, has already agreed to a call from the council’s opposition Liberal Democrat group for an inquiry, which will not be confined to the Cranwood decision.
The Lib Dem proposal will be heard at a special full council meeting on Tuesday. Ahmet has emailed Labour colleagues confirming her intention to work with opposition leader Luke Cawley-Harrison to agree the scope of an “independent external investigation into historical arrangements for property transactions”, according to the Hampstead and Highgate Express.
Ejiofor’s removal as a potential candidate takes place against a background of continuing factionalism in Haringey Labour. A rearguard action is underway by Corbyn sympathisers to regain control of the council from Ahmet and her allies, who are fighting to ensure that candidates selected are aligned with what has been described as Ahmet’s “sensible” left and centre-left approach.
Wrangling with the regional office has already seen the selection process delayed and one Haringey constituency secretary barred from using the Labour email system because of alleged misuse.
With just over two months to go before Londoners go to the polls, the Labour candidate selections, which remain finely-balanced between the factions, are proceeding under close supervision by the regional office. Ahmet has already been reselected unopposed in her home ward.
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