A Haringey councillor hoping to replace Joseph Ejiofor as the local council leader has been accused of Islamophobia in a complaint by colleagues that has now been sent to the London regional board.
In an email seen by LabourList, councillor Pat Berryman appears to have accused a member of “weaponising your religion” when they asked for arrangements to be made in meetings for those fasting during Ramadan.
The Constituency Labour Party observer to Haringey Labour group had complained that Berryman refused to make reasonable adjustments for Muslim councillors and other participants.
They also alleged that Berryman accused them of “playing the race card” when raising concerns about racist social media posts targeting incumbent Labour leader of the council Joseph Ejiofor.
A complaint was originally submitted to the party on July 23rd but the complainants have said that councillor Berryman has not been suspended.
It has now been sent to members of Labour’s London regional executive, ahead of elections of officers for the Haringey Labour group – including that of leader – taking place next week.
Commenting on the allegations, Berryman told LabourList: “I am aware of a complaint, though I don’t know the full substance of it, and it will be handled by the Labour Party.
“Until then, due process must be allowed to take place and it would be wrong for me to comment. However, I am confident that once the complaints procedure examination runs its proper course it will find in my favour.”
Haringey councillors voted in July to hold the council’s annual general meeting this month. This followed an earlier decision by Ejiofor in consultation with mayor Sheila Peacock to postpone the meeting until next May due to Covid.
Party guidance says that where councils have decided to delay their annual meetings, local Labour groups should also postpone their AGMs. But as this is no longer the case, the group’s annual meeting will go ahead on September 7th.
Berryman is understood to be standing for leader against incumbent Ejiofor. A source within the Labour-run local authority told LabourList that Ejiofor is expected to win, but that the contest will be close.
Berryman served as the cabinet member for finance until March 2020. He resigned, citing “decisions being taken over [his] head”, and complained of concerns about the leadership of the council under Ejiofor.
Labour does not comment on individual cases for confidentiality and data protection reasons. LabourList understands that the regional executive committee does not have a role in investigating breaches of Labour Party rules.