Redbridge Council’s Labour group has been accused of an “abuse of the system” by delaying the disciplinary hearing of one of its councillors – which meant a by-election was avoided.
Barkingside councillor Khaled Noor, 46, had the whip removed indefinitely on November 9 over his conduct in a number of “incidents” this year.
Sources say the disciplinary action came after Cllr Noor became “heated” about Islamophobia in the Labour Party during a private meeting in January.
Redbridge’s Conservative leader Linda Hugget told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she believed the Labour group had deliberately avoided a by-election by delaying the disciplinary hearing until Tuesday’s cut-off date.
She said: “I find it very surprising that those allegations were made such a long time ago and nothing has been done about them until the cut-off date when you can call an election, which was November 9.
“They held the disciplinary back – they have used and gerrymandered the system so that a by-election wouldn’t have been called. It’s an abuse of the system.”
Redbridge Labour declined to comment on the reasons for removing the whip from Cllr Noor, or Cllr Huggett’s allegations.
A Labour group spokesperson said: “The whip has been withdrawn from Cllr Noor following a number of separate incidents where his behaviour has fallen below the high standard we expect of our members.
“The group only considers removal of the whip in exceptional circumstances where conduct breaches set standards; the fact poor conduct has been repeated is a matter of regret but made action unavoidable.”
During a public council meeting on January 21 this year Cllr Noor asked Redbridge leader Jas Athwal how he was addressing Islamophobia in the party. He referred to complaints about an alleged Islamophobic post by an unidentified user of Redbridge Labour’s Twitter account in November 2020.
On Tuesday, the Barkingside councillor’s whip was removed indefinitely, although he has a right to appeal to the national Labour Party. Unless he resigns, he will remain a councillor in Redbridge’s Barkingside ward until the local elections in May 2022.
In a written statement after the initial publication of this article, Cllr Noor said that he vehemently denies the allegations and will appeal the decision.
He said: “As a passionate campaigner for social justice, equality and community cohesion – I reject and oppose all forms of racism: this includes anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“I strongly believe that we are equal before God and the law. My record speaks for itself, I strongly support equality issues, both in terms of policy and personal behaviour.
“I, however, suffered bullying, intimidation and victimisation for raising the issue of Islamophobia. The last three years have been the most difficult in my professional and personal life.
“I sincerely believe that ‘we have more in common than that which divides us‘ as famously said by the late Jo Cox MP. We all have the responsibility to work for a kinder politics; set aside hatred and division and demonstrate that dialogue and not conflict can create a safer and harmonious society for all.”