Barnet council leader defends Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner's 'illegal' behaviour

Times Series: Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner was accused of 'breaking the law' by London Mayor Boris Johnson Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner was accused of 'breaking the law' by London Mayor Boris Johnson

Barnet Council Leader Richard Cornelius has defended Mayor Hugh Rayner’s “illegal” behaviour towards tenants living in the properties he owns.

Cllr Rayner, the first citizen of the borough, has been accused of breaking the law by London Mayor Boris Johnson over the “unfair” way he treats his tenants, who receive housing benefit.

What do you think? See below

The allegations came out during the Mayor’s Question Time at the London Assembly on Wednesday, by GLA member for Barnet Andrew Dismore.

Cllr Rayner drafted 12 month contracts which permitted rent increases by any amount during any time of the year, used children as translators and overcharged them to the “detriment of the public purse”.

In addition, he asked fellow Conservative Cllr John Hart to pre-sign the lease without the tenant being present and “pressurised” a woman to sign by turning up unannounced at 10pm.

According to Housing Charity Shelter, this is all "unfair" and "clearly" void of common law.

When questioned about Cllr Rayner’s behaviour by the Times Series, Cllr Cornelius appeared to dodge the question.

He said: “I don’t know, it doesn’t sound illegal. I don’t know the details of it so I can’t make a judgement.

“If it’s something that’s illegal it’s something that shouldn’t be done. It depends on what you mean by illegal?

“Leases should be in line with a statute. If it wasn’t, it would be a civil matter.”

Instead of charging residents at market rate – which would be between £989 and £1,186 per month – Cllr Rayner charged six out of seven tenants on housing benefit between £1,350 and £1,846.

When asked about this, Cllr Cornelius replied: “Market rent is what you can get something for. If that’s the amount of money he can get for the houses, it’s market rent.

“I don’t see that as overcharging to the detriment of the public purse.”

However, Cllr Rayner has since admitted he no longer uses pre-signed witnesses and has removed the clause about rent increases as he appreciates they are “invalid”.

But he denied the fact that tenants are “pressurised” and said the tenant could have asked him to “come back at better time” if 10pm was not convenient.

Since the details emerged, there have been calls for Cllr Rayner to resign. So far, 83 per cent of Times Series readers believe he should step down from his duties as Mayor.

But Cllr Cornelius said: “No of course he shouldn’t resign over this.”

What do you think?

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:13pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Cadwallader says...

From a purely idealistic point of view, Cornelius wouldn't think Rayner has done anything wrong. The regulations protecting tenants from rapacious and unscrupulous landlords are precisely the sort of "red-tape" standing in the way of the likes of Cornelius and Rayner from making a fast buck by exploiting the needy and disadvantaged.

I think he should resign - but the people of Barnet narrowly voted for this kind of behaviour. We elected their snouts back into the trough. We deserve them.
From a purely idealistic point of view, Cornelius wouldn't think Rayner has done anything wrong. The regulations protecting tenants from rapacious and unscrupulous landlords are precisely the sort of "red-tape" standing in the way of the likes of Cornelius and Rayner from making a fast buck by exploiting the needy and disadvantaged. I think he should resign - but the people of Barnet narrowly voted for this kind of behaviour. We elected their snouts back into the trough. We deserve them. Cadwallader
  • Score: 3

5:49pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Don't Call Me Dave says...

Richard Cornelius has evidently forgotten the damage caused to the Conservatives in Barnet when he dithered over dealing with Brian Coleman. Indeed, he dithered for so long, Conservative Central Office had to step in and do his job for him.

Hugh Rayner has not been charged with any offence – civil or criminal – but, by his own belated admission, there is now sufficient circumstantial evidence to warrant a thorough investigation. He can’t be forced to resign as a councillor, but the whip can – and should – be removed until this matter is concluded.
Richard Cornelius has evidently forgotten the damage caused to the Conservatives in Barnet when he dithered over dealing with Brian Coleman. Indeed, he dithered for so long, Conservative Central Office had to step in and do his job for him. Hugh Rayner has not been charged with any offence – civil or criminal – but, by his own belated admission, there is now sufficient circumstantial evidence to warrant a thorough investigation. He can’t be forced to resign as a councillor, but the whip can – and should – be removed until this matter is concluded. Don't Call Me Dave
  • Score: 3

6:19pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

"Barnet council leader defends Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner's 'illegal' behaviour." In the famous words of Mandy Rice-Davies, "He would, wouldn't he?"
"Barnet council leader defends Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner's 'illegal' behaviour." In the famous words of Mandy Rice-Davies, "He would, wouldn't he?" Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 4

10:38pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Ian L says...

I'm not sure what's worse. On one hand we have Cllr's Rayner's appalling abuse of the system. His business practices are quite obviously detrimental to the public purse, clearly immoral and probably illegal.
Then we have Cllr Cornelius, whose quoted response demonstrates an alarming inability to understand the matter.
And they are the Mayor of Barnet and the Leader of the Council. Neither have any place in public office.
I'm not sure what's worse. On one hand we have Cllr's Rayner's appalling abuse of the system. His business practices are quite obviously detrimental to the public purse, clearly immoral and probably illegal. Then we have Cllr Cornelius, whose quoted response demonstrates an alarming inability to understand the matter. And they are the Mayor of Barnet and the Leader of the Council. Neither have any place in public office. Ian L
  • Score: 7

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree