Haringey: Ex-council leader launches legal action over ombudsman criticism

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, leader of Haringey Council

Former Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor has filed papers with the High Court, seeking to take legal action against the Local Government Ombudsman - Credit: Polly Hancock

The former leader of Haringey Council is attempting to take legal action against a government body for criticising him in a report. 

Ex-Labour leader Joseph Ejiofor has filed papers with the High Court, seeking to judicially review a decision by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to name him in the document. 

The High Court has confirmed that the papers have been received and are awaiting assessment by a judge. 

They were submitted by barrister Leo Davidson, a public law specialist at 11KBW chambers. 

Cllr Ejiofor declined to share his legal submission with the Ham&High but said: “Whilst the ombudsman enjoys broad discretion in many areas, its ability to ‘name and shame’ individuals is tightly prescribed by law because those decisions have severe personal consequences. 

“I am seeking leave to judicially review the ombudsman’s decision to name me because I believe it to be legally flawed and because I want my good name back.” 

In January, the LGO published a report saying that whilst he was council leader in 2020, Cllr Ejiofor took a “flawed” unilateral decision to call off the planned demolition of a row of houses in Muswell Hill. 

The LGO investigated after a resident complained that he had endured years of stress as he tried to negotiate with Haringey Council over its plan to demolish his home in Woodside Avenue to facilitate a housing development. 

He said Cllr Ejiofor had cancelled the scheme after years of upset, just as he and the council had finally been on the brink of an agreement. 

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The LGO found Cllr Ejiofor had made the decision to call off the bulldozers in an informal meeting with residents, “without proper scrutiny” – something Cllr Ejiofor has consistently denied. 

The report noted that Haringey Council had lobbied the LGO not to name Cllr Ejiofor, but it had done so “in the public interest”. 

A month later, Cllr Ejiofor was removed as a Labour candidate in this month’s Haringey elections – a decision he blamed in part on the LGO report. 

An LGO spokesperson said: “As the councillor has indicated he has lodged a claim with the court, it would be inappropriate for us to say anything further.” 

For more, read:

Former Haringey Council leader removed as Labour Party election candidate

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

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