Whistleblower slams Sheffield Council's 'continued inaction' over Mazher Iqbal investigation
The former Sheffield City Council employee who blew the whistle on cabinet member Mazher Iqbal’s alleged code of conduct breaches has slammed the council’s continued failure to progress with its investigation.
On June 1, The Star published a story revealing that Coun Iqbal was subject to an ongoing investigation into several allegations including that he had met with developers without officers present and delayed or cancelled planning consultations without proper explaination.
The investigation, which SCC has said is ongoing, was opened following a complaint made in October 2020 by Simon Ogden, head of regeneration at the council for 36 years.
And while Coun Iqbal ‘robustly denies’ the allegations, he has been ‘stepped aside’ from his cabinet duties for the duration of the investigation.
Yet Mr Ogden claims that, in spite of the public calls for answers and the seriousness of the allegations, investigating officers at Sheffield City Council have still failed to provide a time scale for the conclusion of their investigation and have told him that the inquiry is ‘paused’.
"It feels like they are intent on kicking it down the road,” Mr Ogden said. “They are clearly still not taking it seriously.
"The protocol states clearly that these investigations should take 12 weeks and it has been more than 20 weeks.”
In a letter to council chief executive Kate Josephs, seen by The Star, Mr Ogden writes: “As a result of that public airing Coun Iqbal was finally ‘stepped down’ by his colleagues from the position of Executive Member for City Futures, Development, Culture and Regeneration to which he had just been re-appointed following recent elections.
“Whilst that was a welcome if very overdue move, three weeks on the Council’s Head of Legal Services, who has responsibility for such investigations, tells me that the investigation is still ‘paused’ and is still unable to say when it will be concluded, let alone when any action will be taken.”
He added: “Recent questions raised at the June Full Council Meeting were batted aside with the same bland statement: that the matter is still being investigated and a refusal to offer any comment or timetable for completion of the investigation.”
Mr Ogden said he had contacted national The Labour Party and been informed that “they would not intervene until the council’s own investigation was fully complete”.
Gillian Duckworth, Director of Legal and Governance at Sheffield City Council, said: “While we aim to resolve complaints as quickly as possible and within our timescale of 12 weeks, some investigations are complex and take more time.
“We take all complaints seriously on behalf of both the complainant and the person being complained about and it is important that we investigate thoroughly and rigorously to achieve a fair and correct outcome.”