Haringey council leader quits over 'sexist, bullying behaviour' as Labour NEC row grows

30 January 2018, 21:34

A council leader is quitting over "sexist and bullying" behaviour she experienced in a battle with Labour's ruling body.

Claire Kober said she had been "disappointed and disillusioned" by the row over a £2bn housing project in Haringey, north London.

The senior local government official declared she would not stand for re-election when council seats are re-fought in the capital in May.

Her proposed "Haringey Development Vehicle" captured national headlines when Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) made a major intervention to halt the scheme.

It came days after a clean-sweep for pro-Jeremy Corbyn candidates on elections to the NEC, with figures including Momentum founder Jon Lansman propelled to the top jobs.

Mr Corbyn had also personally criticised the HDV project, which involves a partnership with the private sector.

Ms Kober told the Evening Standard: "The sexism, bullying, undemocratic behaviour and outright personal attacks on me as the most senior woman in Labour local government have left me disappointed and disillusioned."

And on Twitter she took a thinly-veiled swipe at Momentum, whose members have been active in selection battles for the forthcoming council elections.

Praising council colleagues, Ms Kober said: "I am only sorry that many have been denied the opportunity to stand once again."

Former interim Labour leader Harriet Harman said she "just cannot speak too highly" of Ms Kober.

The Peckham MP told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "All that she says about the difficulty about being a woman in leadership I'm sure is absolutely true and is a challenge to all of us in the party."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also praised the councillor, who has served since 2006 and received an OBE in 2016.

He said she deserved "massive credit" for turning around local children's services after the Baby P scandal.

Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis said: "From Labour headquarters to Haringey Council, Jeremy Corbyn's hard-left supporters continue their takeover of the Labour Party."

Labour's shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne, who has been asked to mediate in the development row, said he was "sorry" to see Ms Kober go and hailed her for leading Haringey during "a very difficult time".

He said: "The housing crisis is a national scandal caused in 10 Downing Street.

"However, there are issues specific to Haringey that have caused concern for many residents and local politicians, which is why I have been asked to mediate."

Critics of the HDV have described the scheme as "social cleansing".

But Ms Kober hit back by attacking "ideological dogmas".

The £2bn scheme would see the transfer of council assets and land into a 50-50 partnership with a private developer.