"Ensure this doesn't drag on": Former Sheffield City Council leader calls for swift conclusion to Mazher Iqbal investigation

Former leader of Sheffield City Council Lord Paul Scriven has branded the allegations against Councillor Mazher Iqbal as ‘the most serious’ he has ever seen and called for the council to investigate the complaints quickly.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 12:39 pm

Lord Scriven, who led Sheffield City Council between 2008 and 2011, responded to The Star’s article about the ongoing investigation into cabinet member Mazher Iqbal, who is accused of breaking codes of conduct by former head of regeneration Simon Ogden.

The allegations include meeting with developers without officers present and wasting thousands of pounds of public money by delaying consultations without explanation as to why.

Coun Iqbal ‘robustly denies’ the allegations, however has been asked to step aside from his duties as cabinet member for the duration of the investigation – which began six months ago.

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Lord Scriven

Lord Scriven said: “The allegations that the Star have reported on about the behavior and actions of Councillor Iqbal are some of the most serious I have ever seen during my time in Sheffield.

“These kind of allegations have to be investigated seriously for both Cllr Iqbal and the reputation of the City and investment and development in Sheffield.

“As a former Leader of the City Council it makes me shudder that such serious allegations are taking so long to be investigated and also that despite knowing of the seriousness of the allegations the new Coalition Cabinet not only offered Cllr Iqbal a Cabinet position, but the very one that covers the areas that the allegations are made.”

Sheffield City Council election count 2021. Mazher Iqbal held his seat for Labour. Picture: Chris Etchells

The publication of the details of the investigation prompted calls from Sheffield Lib Dem and Green Party groups to call for Coun Iqbal’s suspension while the investigation is ongoing.

Lord Scriven echoed these calls, however criticised the appointment of Coun Iqbal to the new cabinet last month when the complaint and ongoing investigation was known to councillors, including leader Terry Fox.

He added: “I am pleased that once the story was made public ,Cllr Iqbal was asked to stand aside. However, one has to ask why even knowing the serious issues and keeping them behind closed doors was Cllr Iqbal given a seat in the new Coalition Cabinet in the first before the outcomes of the investigation have reported?

“It is important that Sheffield is seen as having a level playing field for investment and development. Nothing should get in the way of that.

“We will not know the validity of the allegations until the investigation has concluded and if Cllr Iqbal has or has not broken any rules or indeed the law. That is why the senior officers in the Councils have to deal with this with the seriousness it deserves.

“I look forward to the investigation reporting soon, the new Chief Executive of the Council needs to ensure this doesn't drag on. The allegations have to be proved or dismissed so that both Cllr Iqbal and the City can have this cloud lifted.”

Sheffield City Council has confirmed that an investigation is ongoing but cannot comment further. The investigation continues, however a timescale for its conclusion has not been provided.