Sitting councillor Joseph Ejiofor, who served as the leader of Labour-led Haringey Council last year, has been blocked from standing as a Labour candidate in the upcoming May 5th local elections.
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, just hours before the local party was due to start selecting its candidates, the former Labour council leader revealed: “The London regional Labour Party removed me as a Labour candidate yesterday.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “All prospective and sitting councillors are subject to internal Labour Party selection processes, including checks on their personal probity, which are applied in the same manner to all prospective candidates.” LabourList understands that all appeals have been exhausted.
Update, 6.15pm: Ejiofor told LabourList: “To my great personal distress, I have been targeted by my own party in a Kafkaesque process resulting in an unjust ruling. After all, how can it be right that someone is asked to submit their defence before even hearing the charges?
“Eventually, the charges were revealed to concern my decision not to knock down seven council houses or to pay a resident three times the value of his home; my other supposed breach was, unbelievably, to support changing the name of Black Boy Lane. In other words, I am being punished for standing up for my community.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to share further details at this time while I take legal advice on further avenues to appeal this unfair and unsustainable ruling.”
Ejiofor was criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman in a report on the council’s handling of a proposed housing development. The Met Police has confirmed it is investigating “allegations of fraud received in March 2021 that relate to a housing development in Haringey”, but no individuals were named.
Ejiofor decided not to continue with a development that would have demolished a number of homes, including council houses. The ombudsman said the move was “flawed” and that a homeowner had not been treated with “even-handedness”.
Local Lib Dems in Haringey have called for an inquiry. Their proposal will be heard at a full council meeting on Tuesday. Council leader Peray Ahmet told Labour colleagues she will work with the opposition to agree the scope of an “independent external investigation into historical arrangements for property transactions”.
A Momentum spokesperson described the block on Ejiofor as a “deeply worrying development”, adding: “When one of Labour’s most senior Black politicians in local government is blocked from re-standing on spurious grounds, it’s clear that the party bureaucracy is out of control.
“Alarmingly, this is not an isolated case, but yet another case of left-wing candidates being blocked from standing. Labour should urgently reconsider this decision and allow councillor Ejiofor to contest selection in the community he has represented for years.”
Ejiofor was successfully challenged by Peray Ahmet in an election last May. LabourList understands Ahmet won by one vote after a third challenger withdrew. 19 of the Labour group at the time backed Ejiofor to remain as council leader.
Five councillors had been suspended from the Labour group in Haringey following complaints of antisemitism, Islamophobia and threatening behaviour towards colleagues, which had delayed the meeting at which the vote was held.
Selection of Labour candidates is proceeding in the north-London borough under close supervision from the Labour Party’s regional office in London. Current council leader Ahmet has been reselected unopposed in her home ward.
The bar on the ex-council leader standing for Labour comes after LabourList exclusively revealed last month that many local parties across London had still not selected candidates for the elections in May. Haringey is among those delayed.
Local authorities are currently transitioning to new ward boundaries, on which candidates will be seeking election in May, and organisers have stressed the difficulty of getting members out campaigning in “wards that do not yet exist”.
More than 1,800 council seats across London’s 32 boroughs are up for grabs on May 5th. In 2018, the last time the council seats were contested, Labour won 1,123 from a total of 1,833 seats, while the Conservatives won 511.
Joseph Ejiofor and current council leader Peray Ahmet were contacted for comment.
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