Patrick Berryman and Dana Carlin suspended over separate complaints of racism
The ‘racist coup‘ against London’s only black council leader has hit a significant bump in the road after both would-be challengers to Joe Ejiofor and his deputy Seema Chandwani were suspended following complaints of racism.
Cllr Patrick Berryman was said to be standing against Ejiofor and Cllr Dana Carlin against Chandwani in what locals have described as an attempt by the Labour right to seize back control of Haringey council lost after controversial previous leader Claire Kober quit. LabourList reported the suspensions but did not mention their status as challengers.
Incumbent Ejiofor is strongly backed by local members, with some demanding that the challenge be abandoned because of the support he enjoys – but the suspension of both challengers has thrown the takeover attempt into disarray.
The complaint against Berryman centred on comments and an email – revealed exclusively by the SKWAWKBOX – after Muslim members asked him for a short break in a Labour group meeting to break their Ramadan fast. Berryman emailed a member accusing him of ‘weaponising’ Islam – and the same member has alleged that Berryman accused him of ‘playing the race card’ after the member complained about racist comments made by a former councillor about Ejiofor.
Carlin’s suspension comes after complaints that she used the ‘n-word’ – the SKWAWKBOX understands that it was allegedly used several times – during a meeting.
The attempt to remove Cllr Ejiofor as leader was dubbed a ‘racist coup‘ by locals after one former Labour councillor tweeted linking Ejiofor to chimpanzees and comparing him to an African dictator – and another councillor was suspended for alleged threatening language toward the borough’s 86-year-old Jewish mayor for agreeing with Ejiofor to delay an annual general meeting because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A councillor on the left of the party was also suspended this week, over social media comments he says were edited to make them appear antisemitic. Supporters of another left-winger on the council, Preston Tabois, have said the same was done to his social media to concoct a complaint – and it is certainly clear from the screengrabbed social media comments that he was replying to a man and not supporting the woman who authored a racist article.
The London Labour Party’s conduct in association with the various complaints has been less than exemplary. When the SKWAWKBOX contacted accused councillors for comment in July, Labour’s London regional office intervened to shield the councillors – even though one, because he was suspended over the alleged threats to the mayor, was no longer even a Labour councillor.
Yet another councillor, Julie Davies, has not so far been sanctioned despite an email mocking the English of a council colleague of Kurdish ethnicity – but Preston Tabois, who put his name to the complaint about her conduct, was suspended in spite of the obvious issues with the allegations against him.
The councillors did not respond to LabourList’s request for comment.
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