Enfield’s council leader has challenged a ruling that she bullied a colleague – and claims she has been the victim of a “smear campaign”.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan has appealed against the ruling that she breached the council’s code of conduct and bullied former cabinet member for public health Cllr Yasemin Brett over a decision to suspend her following a meeting in November.

The council leader claims a complaint against her by Cllr Brett was a “party-political” matter and should never have been considered by the council’s conduct process.

She also alleged that the council’s complaints process had been “used to further a personal and political attack” on her and claimed it had worsened an “enduring smear campaign” against her.

Cllr Caliskan’s appeal will be heard at a meeting of Enfield Council’s conduct committee on Wednesday (September 4).

Documents published on Enfield Council’s website ahead of the meeting include an exchange of letters between Cllr Caliskan and the council’s director of law and governance, Jeremy Chambers.

In June, Mr Chambers ruled Cllr Caliskan had breached the code of conduct over the suspension of Cllr Brett following an investigation by an independent solicitor.

Cllr Brett was suspended after declaring a non-pecuniary interest in a report on the North London Waste Plan and leaving a cabinet meeting while her colleagues discussed the report.

Cllr Caliskan said the Bowes ward councillor’s actions broke “a previously agreed collective position by cabinet to support a particular report”.

Mr Chambers found Cllr Brett was removed from her role “prematurely”, and the way Cllr Caliskan communicated with Cllr Brett – as well as the leader’s conduct of a meeting with her – amounted to bullying.

But in a letter to Mr Chambers dated June 16, Cllr Caliskan claimed Cllr Brett’s complaint was already being dealt with by the Labour Party.

She added that Cllr Brett was given time to apologise before she decided to suspend her from her cabinet post.

The council leader said council resources had been used to carry out a “politically motivated attack” on her.

In a letter dated July 26, Mr Chambers replied that it had been right to deal with the issue through the council complaints process because it was “about decisions you made in your role as a councillor”.

He added that the investigating solicitor found Cllr Brett had offered to apologise “and concluded that continuing to send emails which did not acknowledge the apology together with the general tone of those emails could amount to bullying behaviour”.

Mr Chambers also called on the council leader to retract a previous statement asking him to “discontinue using council resources for political purposes”, calling it “a serious attack on my professional integrity”.

When it meets on September 4, the conduct committee will decide whether to grant Cllr Caliskan’s appeal or uphold Mr Chambers’ original ruling.

If it decides to uphold the ruling, it could impose a range of sanctions on Cllr Caliskan – including banning her from council offices for a period of time.

The meeting will be held at Enfield Civic Centre at 6.30pm.

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