Former London borough leader launches judicial review challenge after ombudsman names him in report

A former leader of Haringey Council has taken legal action to challenge the Local Government and Social Services Ombudsman’s decision to appoint him in a recent report.

In January 2022, the ombudsman found misconduct causing unfairness after Mr X complained about Haringey’s handling of the potential purchase of his house in connection with the development of a nearby site.

Mr. X claimed that due to the board’s mistakes, his family had lived in limbo for six years.

The LGSCO concluded that a decision by Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, then chief of Haringey, to abandon the development was “flawed”.

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The report called on Haringey to reconsider his plans for the site with all options open for consideration.

The Ombudsman also found fault in the council’s communication with MX and accused Haringey of a lack of impartiality in his approach.

Announcing the launch of legal proceedings, Cllr Ejiofor claimed that the development had been halted for a number of reasons, “including failing to deliver value to ratepayers, opposition from neighboring council tenants to the demolition of their council houses and the sewage lines running under the site which rendered the project unviable”.

Cllr Ejiofor said: ‘I had to go to the High Court to seek justice. It is no secret that I do not agree with the substance of the mediator’s report. Even the Ombudsman accepted that the decision I made was a legal decision. Moreover, during his review, it was reaffirmed that this was the only logical decision in the circumstances.

“While the Ombudsman enjoys broad discretion in many areas, his ability to ‘name and blame’ individuals is strictly prescribed by law, as such decisions have serious personal consequences.

“I seek permission to judicially review the ombudsman’s decision to appoint me, because I believe it is legally flawed and because I want my reputation back.”

He added that, for legal reasons, he would not be able to comment further during the proceedings.

Cllr Ejiofor claimed that the LGCSO had failed to identify a single previous instance of an individual counsel being appointed, despite multiple requests to do so by its legal team.

A spokesperson for LGSCO said: ‘As the adviser has advised that he has filed a complaint with the court, it would be inappropriate for us to say more.’