Sheffield Council faces calls to publish details of ‘exonerated’ Mazher Iqbal misconduct investigation

Details of the internal investigation which ‘exonerated’ cabinet member Mazher Iqbal from accusations of misconduct should be published, it has been claimed.

By Lloyd Bent
Monday, 8th November 2021, 1:00 pm

Sheffield City Council this week published the conclusions of its standards and audit sub-committee which considered the report on the year-long investigation. It found that “there was no evidence to suggest that breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct had occurred,” but the full details of the report remain confidential.

Responding to the report, council leader Terry Fox said: “The independent recommendations completely exonerate Councillor Iqbal - drawing a firm line under this matter.

“People have tried to use this situation for political gain, and sadly the accusations were leaked and weaponised in a bid to disrupt the running of the council and smear a hardworking councillor. But they failed.”

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Councillor Mazher Iqbal has been exonerated after an internal council investigation

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Sheffield city councillor Mazher Iqbal found not to have breached codes of condu...

But Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, has questioned the accuracy of the term ‘exonerated’ and called for the report details to be made public to prove Coun Fox’s statements.

He said: “I have not seen the full report and I am not likely to see it either. That is part of the problem.

“The Labour Group and the council leader Terry Fox are saying that Mazher has been ‘exonerated’ and that he has nothing to answer for. But the public is not allowed to see the report that they claim proves that as it was carried out internally.

Leader of SCC opposition Shaffaq Mohammed

"The standards board may have said what he did does not amount to a breach of the code of conduct, but they also said they were ‘deeply concerned about the seeming acceptability of the day-to-day behaviours of senior officers and members illustrated by the complaint’.

“That is a funny interpretation of the term ‘exonerated’.

“In my 16 years of being on this council, I have never seen comments like that from a cross-party standards board chaired by the colleagues of the person under scrutiny.”

Mr Mohammed added: “Standard board reports are not normally published but I have never heard of a case like this before where a long standing senior office has made such serious claims about a senior councillor, in the public domain and for which details are of public interest.

"Given the strong statements by Councillors Iqbal and Fox it is right a proper that the public are given details of what the investigation found that lead to the councillors on the standards board stating that Coun Iqbal “did not always model the behaviour expected of a senior member of council and this type of behaviour should not have gone unchecked at the time.”

“It is in the public insterest to release the internal council enquiry report into Cllr Iqbal's behaviour.”

Meanwhile former head of regeneration Simon Ogden, who initially made the complaint alleging Coun Iqbal had breached the code of conduct, claims to have only been allowed to see a draft of the report and not the final version.

While it is not a requirement for the council to make the final report public, SCC’s own rules state that when a complaint goes to investigation, the final report will be sent to the monitoring officer, complainant and member.

Last October, a formal complaint was submitted to the council by Simon Ogden about the alleged misconduct of Councillor Mazher Iqbal, including ‘inappropriately’ meeting with developers and ‘wasting council resources’ by commissioning and cancelling consultations.

An internal investigation was launched, and in June, following The Star’s publication of the complaint, Coun Iqbal was ‘stepped aside’ from his executive duties for the remainder of its duration.