The leader of Enfield Council has been criticised for apparently failing to say sorry for breaching the code of conduct – despite being told to by the council’s legal department.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan expressed regret that her intentions had been “misconstrued” but stopped short of using the words “sorry” or “apologise” in a formal response to a complaint by former scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Derek Levy.

Cllr Levy said he did not consider it to be a proper apology and added the council leader “does not seem to appreciate the significance of what she has done or acknowledge that she has done anything wrong”.

Cllr Caliskan breached the council’s code of conduct over remarks made following a scrutiny committee meeting in October last year on proposed changes to bin collections.

After then-chairman of the committee Cllr Levy agreed the proposals should be sent back to cabinet to be reconsidered, Cllr Caliskan emailed him to suggest he should meet with her regularly to ensure he was “more closely aligned to key decisions” on Labour Group priorities.

Cllr Levy complained to the council’s monitoring officer, warning that her emails risked threatening the impartiality of the committee, which is designed to hold decision-makers to account.

A solicitor appointed to investigate the complaint recommended Cllr Caliskan offer a written apology to Cllr Levy for the remarks.

But Cllr Caliskan’s email to Cllr Levy, which has been seen by the Enfield Independent, claims she had wanted to ensure he was provided with “the most accurate information about our council’s policy and development”.

It adds: “A genuine offer to discuss with you [Cllr Levy] those Labour Group policy commitments, which we had collectively agreed to as candidates and elected members of the Labour Group, was something which I believed that I was entitled to do as leader of the Labour Group and leader of the council”.

The email concludes: “I regret if this intention has been misconstrued or was capable of being misconstrued.”

Cllr Levy claimed the council leader should apologise to the public, because that is who the scrutiny committee is designed to represent.

Enfield Council was asked whether the email counted as an apology under its governance rules but has yet to comment on the matter.

Cllr Susan Erbil replaced Cllr Levy as chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee following elections by the Labour Group in May.

In response to a question by Conservative leader Cllr Joanne Laban at full council on July 10, Cllr Caliskan said she was confident Cllr Erbil had “the skills that mean she does not mistakenly misconstrue any future communication from myself or executive members”.

Cllr Caliskan was also recently found to have breached the code of conduct and bullied former cabinet member Cllr Yasemin Brett after suspending her from cabinet without warning.

But the council leader later claimed most people would not consider her actions “bullying” – even though that had been the ruling of the monitoring officer following an investigation.

Cllr Caliskan was also approached for comment.