Conservative councillors for Hertsmere have called for a labour leader to “step back” as police investigate fraud allegations against him.
Leader of the Labour group on Hertsmere Borough Council, Jeremy Newmark, who is the former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), is being investigated by police after the publication of an independent review into his conduct and its handling by the JLC’s trustees.
The JLC is a Jewish charity which brings together the major British Jewish organisations to work for the good of the British Jewish community.
The report suggests that £111,734 cannot be accounted for and that an additional £266,189 merits further investigation.
The inquiry was established last year after the Jewish Chronical (JC) revealed the existence of an internal JLC audit from 2013 which accused Mr Newmark of unauthorised spending and misleading charities about the cost of projects he worked on.
Mr Newmark has denied that he misused JLC funds or claimed inappropriate expenses. He resigned as chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement the day after the story broke in February last year and has made no public comments since issuing a denial to the JC.
The Hertsmere Conservative Association has called for Jeremy Newmark to “consider his position” following the investigation.
Conservative leader, councillor Morris Bright, wrote to local members of the Jewish community, saying: “I hope cllr Newmark will give serious thought to the effect this story will have on his constituents in general, and the Jewish community in Elstree and Borehamwood in particular, who remain rocked and worried by ongoing pernicious displays of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
“I hope Jeremy Newmark will do the right thing asap. If not, then at the local elections on May 2 there will be an opportunity for him to be removed by the people.”
Conservative councillor for Hertsmere, Paul Morris OBE, said: “All people who put themselves for public office must follow what are known as the Nolan’s principles. These include selflessness, integrity, accountability, and honesty.
“Cllr Newmark has a right to defend himself and his name but he must surely want to put the concerns of residents before his own.
“I would hope that cllr Newmark has the selflessness and integrity to make a decision here which puts both residents in general and the large local Jewish community in particular, first in his thoughts.
“He should step back. Or the local election campaign will end up being about whether he is fit for office and that would not fair to anyone, least of all his own party.”
Labour Group whip, cllr Richard Butler, wrote in response: “None of the substantive allegations against cllr Newmark were proven despite a year-long process.
“Unsurprisingly, the Hertsmere Tory Group has issued a highly mendacious piece of pre-election propaganda based upon an unbalanced newspaper opinion column about these matters.
“As usual they seek to avoid debate on the real issues affecting local people and resort to personalised attacks.”