'Disclose potential scandals now, or resign', Haringey Labour leader warns

Haringey Council Labour leader Peray Ahmet

Haringey Council's Labour leader Peray Ahmet has told colleagues to disclose any potentially damaging skeletons in their closets sooner rather than later - Credit: Polly Hancock

Haringey Council leader Peray Ahmet has warned Labour councillors that they will be expected to resign if they fail to declare any potentially damaging skeletons in their closets.

She issued the warning last week after one councillor was suspended from the party and another was placed under investigation.

Both actions followed press reports raising questions about their suitability.

Leader of the opposition Luke Cawley-Harrison has demanded to know what vetting processes Labour has in place.

He said it was “incredible” that even after Labour had seen several members suspended for alleged racism and antisemitism in recent years, no proper checks appeared to have been done on candidates.

A source with knowledge of Labour’s selection process claimed there was no proper vetting and it was left up to candidates to declare any potential issues.

The Ham&High asked the Labour Party twice about its vetting processes but it did not answer.

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Ibrahim Ali

Ibrahim Ali, newly-elected in Bruce Castle ward, has been suspended over press reports about a position he formerly held at CAGE, a human rights organisation accused by government of sympathising with terrorists.

Representing CAGE at a Home Affairs select committee in November 2015, Cllr Ali was asked whether he stood by a colleague's description of terrorist Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”) as a “beautiful young man”.

“The comments were made in reference to the person that our research director met at the time in 2012,” he testified. “They are in no way in reference to the person that he became or what he did.

“We have made this clear on a number of occasions... that those are not the thoughts of the organisation or a reference to the person he became in 2014.”

Cllr Ali did not respond to a voicemail and an email from the Ham&High.

A Labour colleague expressed surprise at his suspension, saying it was clear from his testimony that he had not supported or defended Emwazi’s crimes.

Haringey councillor Ibrahim Ali

Cllr Ibrahim Ali's suitability as a candidate has been questioned by media outlets and political rivals, due to his former role at an organisation called CAGE - Credit: Haringey Council

Joy Wallace

Joy Wallace, elected in Fortis Green, is under investigation by Labour following media reports about tweets published by a Twitter account allegedly controlled by her.

The account – in the name Joy Wallace and with the handle “@JoyWall79169497” – has since gone offline.

Among the tweets highlighted by journalists and political rivals was one alleging that a Rabbi was “paid and rewarded handsomely” for criticising Jeremy Corbyn on BBC Radio 4.

Another said of Conservative MP Priti Patel: “She does not consider her parents refugees/migrants or in fact that her ENTIRE family are ethnic people... because she has straight hair and nose. Her skin might be vitiligo or a strong sunbed?!”

The Ham&High contacted Cllr Wallace to ask whether she refuted that the account had been hers.

As soon as our reporter identified himself, she hung up. A follow-up email went unanswered.

Alleged Joy Wallace tweet

An investigation has been launched into whether Joy Wallace, Haringey Labour councillor for Fortis Green, sent this and other tweets - Credit: Twitter

Questions

Labour said it would not comment on individual cases.

A spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

“Questions must be asked of the vetting process for Haringey Labour candidates,” said Lib Dem leader Luke Cawley-Harrison.

“We need a clear and decisive statement from the leader of the council on what action is being taken to ensure that Haringey Labour councillors are fit to serve the residents they represent.”

On Saturday, May 28, council leader Peray Ahmet sent colleagues an email titled “Beyond Reproach”.

She said she had asked Labour to rule on the two cases “as quickly as possible”.

“I will not tolerate antisemitism; islamophobia; or any kind of discrimination from anyone in the group, online or in person,” she wrote, describing antisemitism as “a stain on our party”.

“Haringey is under the spotlight and I am determined that we are all beyond reproach,” she continued.

“That’s why if, in the past, you have done anything that you believe might have breached Labour Party rules or might have brought the party into disrepute, can you let me or the chief whip know as soon as possible – even if you believe that you disclosed it before.

“If we are not told in advance and serious and proven allegations come to light then there will be an expectation on our part that you resign immediately as a Haringey Labour councillor.”