Haringey Council leader agrees to order external 'corruption' investigation

Peray Ahmet, inset, and Woodside Avenue in Cranwood

Haringey Council's Labour leader Peray Ahmet has backed Lib Dem calls for an investigation into 'possible fraud or corruption', sparked by a watchdog's concerns over the Cranwood development in Muswell Hill - Credit: Polly Hancock

The leader of Haringey Council has agreed to commission an “external investigation”, demanded by political rivals, into “possible fraud or corruption”. 

Lib Dems have been calling since last month for a probe into a raft of council planning and development projects and into an alleged “cover-up culture”

They said the final straw had been a Local Government Ombudsman investigation into the Cranwood development in Muswell Hill, during which the council failed to turn over evidence. 

Lib Dems have now been granted an emergency full council meeting, at the Tottenham Green Leisure Centre on February 22, where all members will be asked to back or oppose an investigation. 

But an email, seen by the Ham&High, shows Labour council leader Peray Ahmet has already decided to order the investigation. 

Sent to colleagues on Monday, it said: “I am going to ask for an independent external investigation into historical arrangements for property transactions. 

“I am convening a meeting between the new interim chief executive, the leader of the opposition and myself to work out the scope of what we might ask the investigation to do.” 

A council spokesperson said Cllr Ahmet had spoken to Lib Dem leader Luke Cawley-Harrison to invite him to help design the investigation. 

Cllr Cawley-Harrison said he had been invited to a meeting with Cllr Ahmet and the chief executive next Monday, but that next Tuesday’s full council vote remains important. 

“We want it to be passed by the council, publicly, before the election,” he said. “At the moment it’s just Cllr Ahmet’s word. After the election, there could be a new leader.” 

Most Read

He told the Ham&High that his minimum requirements for the probe include that "it’s not just an investigation into Cranwood".

"There are a number of properties or addresses that we would want looking at, going back probably five years," he said.

Another requirement, he said, was, “that the investigation would be conducted fully independently".

"This would need to be properly independent of the council and of council politics,” he said. 

He said issues to be considered would include how to strike a balance between party's demand that the findings be made public, and affording anonymity to whistleblowers. 

For more, read:

Haringey councillors demand vote on 'fraud and corruption' investigation

Councillors questioned by police in Haringey fraud investigation

'Cover-up': Council withheld evidence from watchdog 'behind leader's back'

Watchdog: Ex-council leader's conduct over housing development was 'flawed'