Haringey councillors demand vote on 'fraud and corruption' investigation

Luke Cawley-Harrison and Alexandra House

Lib Dem leader Luke Cawley-Harrison (inset) wants councillors to order an investigation into possible 'fraud or corruption' after a series of controversial property deals, including the purchase of office block Alexandra House - Credit: Google Streetview/Polly Hancock

Haringey Lib Dems have demanded an emergency meeting where all councillors will be asked to vote for or against an external investigation into possible “fraud or corruption within the council”.

Labour mayor Adam Jogee is expected to announce a time and date in the coming days.

The Lib Dems want all members to vote on a motion expressing concern that three property deals in the past year have provoked internal investigations into apparent procedural failures.

Last April, it emerged that Haringey had spent almost £23m on an office block, months after turning down the chance to buy it far cheaper.

Then, in July, it was revealed that the council had given land to a local rapper for free, despite others offering to pay for it.

Last month the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) questioned a third property deal, linked to the Cranwood regeneration scheme in Muswell Hill.

It investigated why Haringey secretly spent £2.15m on an ex-council house to facilitate the scheme, which was valued at just £850,000. A neighbour complained when the council moved slower and offered less money when negotiating with him.

The watchdog repeatedly asked Haringey to turn over correspondence which might explain the discrepancy, but it failed to comply.

The Information Commissioner has accepted a complaint about that withholding of evidence and has assigned an investigator.

Last week, the Ham&High also revealed that police have questioned some councillors as witnesses in a fraud investigation linked to the Cranwood development, following a report received in May 2021.

Current council leader Peray Ahmet has claimed council officers did not consult her over their interactions with the LGO and never even told her the council was under investigation.

Her claims, along with the LGO’s criticisms, provoked calls for an external investigation into a “cover-up culture”.

“These allegations come at an extremely worrying time, just as the council is embarking on huge increases in spending on capital projects,” Lib Dem leader Luke Cawley-Harrison wrote in his motion.

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He wants members to vote on an external audit, with which the council would pledge to “fully cooperate... and to publicly release the findings, including naming all those involved.”

A council spokesperson said: “A requisition has been put forward for a full council meeting and there is five working days for the mayor to consider this.”

Cllr Jogee declined to comment.

For more, read:

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'