Leader of Brent Council cleared of ‘hiding death of councillor to stall by-electon’
13:07 07 October 2016
The leader of Brent Council has been cleared of claims he covered-up the death of a councillor to stall a by-election following an independent investigation.
The probe, led by independent investigator Richard Penn, looked into the allegation that Cllr Muhammed Butt purposely hid the news that Cllr Tayo Oladapo had died until an announcement was made in March
Cllr Oladapo, a 34-year-old Labour councillor in the Kilburn ward, died on January 29 following a long illness.
According to an email leaked to the press from the borough’s former Labour Party organiser, Cllr Butt delayed announcing his death until March for political reasons.
Brent resident Philip Grant subsequently claimed Cllr Butt had breached the council’s code of conduct.
Mr Penn, a former local authority chief executive of two major metropolitan authorities with 35 years of public sector experience, looked into the events leading up to the announcement of Cllr Oladapo’s death.
He also scrutinised the town hall’s policy regarding councillors who are continuously absent from council meetings.
Cllr Oladapo last attended a meeting in November 2014 with his subsequent absences from meetings being approved by the council until his death was confirmed.
Under current rules any councillor who fails to attend mandatory council meetings for six months, except certain exceptions, automatically loses their position and a by-election is called.
Mr Penn interviewed five council officers as witnesses.
Cllr Butt, the person who made the allegation and seven Labour councillors were also interviewed as part of the investigation.
Last month a 43-page report was released which details the investigation in its entirety.
Exonerating Cllr Butt, Mr Penn said: “I have found no breach of the London Borough of Brent’s member’s code of conduct.”
According to Mr Penn’s report the Labour Party have ruled that no further action would be taken against Cllr Butt following claims it had launched its own investigation.
Cllr Butt had vehemently denied any wrongdoing saying the claims were made for ‘political point scoring’.