It is not every day a council leader gets singled out by a bestselling publication for a national award – but on some occasions that’s all for the best.

Following the potential loss of 27.4m of Barnet Council deposits in failed Icelandic banks, borough chief Mike Freer has been named Private Eye’s “Banker of the Year” as part of its Rotten Borough Awards 2008.

Mr Freer received the award, according to the magazine, because he “raised cluelessness to an art form”.

It added: “He told councillors that he couldn’t be blamed for the council losing £27.4m in dodgy Icelandic banks because he had never bothered to review the council’s investments. Ever. And in a former life he used to be, er, a banker. Quite.”

On hearing of the award, Councillor Alison Moore, leader of the Labour Group, said: “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. Evading taking any semblance of responsibility for the Icelandic banks fiasco was just classic ducking and diving from him.

“His gong from Private Eye is well-deserved.”

Liberal Democrat Group leader Jack Cohen echoed Ms Moore’s sentiments.

“I congratulate Mr Freer on this achievement,” he said. “I trust the council will mark this honour in a suitable manner.”