A ROW has erupted within the Bolton Labour Party over a councillor who was at the centre of a town hall tax scandal.

Party sources have revealed that Cllr Ismail Ibrahim, who was exposed last year for not paying his council tax on time twice, failed a Labour interview to be reselected as a potential candidate — but he has now successfully appealed, with the support of council leader Cliff Morris.

Two high-ranking local Labour officials, who are understood to have questioned Cllr Ibrahim’s suitability to stand at next year’s local elections, have been ousted from their positions.

In a leaked letter seen by The Bolton News, Cllr Morris says he would have ‘no hesitation’ in supporting Cllr Ibrahim and also claims he did not sack him from a key committee post.

Cllr Morris said last year that Cllr Ibrahim, who represents Rumworth, would be sacked as chairman of the council’s corporate and external issues scrutiny committee, which is responsible for overseeing issues related to town hall spending.

A Labour Party source said that the matter has divided councillors and party officials.

Former MP and mayor of Bolton, Frank White, confirmed that he has been removed as chair of the Bolton Labour Party following a vote of no confidence on Monday. Party secretary Sheila Jones, who occupied the other senior non-councillor position within Bolton Labour, has also been removed from her post.

Mr White said: “The processes of the Labour Party were followed exactly and an independent panel came to a judgement. I respect and abide by that judgement.”

Cllr Morris said that ‘they will both be missed’.

Mr White confirmed that Cllr Ibrahim had failed an interview to be reselected to a Labour panel — which is a list of approved candidates — ahead of next year’s local elections.

He has since successfully appealed that decision, following the letter of support from Cllr Morris, and is eligible to be reselected by Labour to stand in the Rumworth ward again.

In his letter of support, Cllr Morris said: “I am writing as the leader of Bolton Council re Ismail’s attendance at meetings.

“At the time of the council tax issue, Ismail was not at all well and we do have a duty of care towards our councillors.

“Ismail and I kept in touch throughout this time; the issue was discussed at the group meeting where his explanation and apology of any distress caused was accepted.

“Ismail has now recovered fully, is an active part of the group and contributes well to the debates and is back as a working councillor. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to the panel the work he does so well.

“Please note Ismail is highly respected within the community and does voluntary work within the community also. I do not want to put more in this letter about the council tax, but would like to speak to the chair of the meeting about this in more detail.

“There seems to be some confusion that Ismail was sacked. I would like to reiterate that Ismail was not sacked, after the AGM of the council; it was Ismail that thought it best that he should take a break from the scrutiny committee and I would give no hesitation in supporting him on his return.”

When Cllr Ibrahim was revealed as the councillor at the centre of the town hall tax scandal in March, 2016 following a lengthy legal battle between The Bolton News and Bolton Council, Cllr Morris said: “I will be taking him out of his position as chair of the scrutiny committee, which is the only position of responsibility that he has. By not coming forward he has, in some ways, tarnished the reputation of the rest of the councillors.”

When asked yesterday if Cllr Ibrahim would have been sacked had he not requested to be taken off the committee, Cllr Morris said: “I can’t speculate as to whether I would have sacked him if he didn’t go.”

He added: “When he is in the right place, he is a capable young man. He is in the right place now.”

The Bolton News has attempted to contact Cllr Ibrahim for a comment.

The original FOI request revealed that Cllr Ibrahim was summonsed to court at some point between April 2011 and March 2012 for not paying £936 in council tax. However, the court hearing was cancelled after the bill was settled.

He was again summonsed to court at some time between April, 2012 and March, 2013 for not paying £1,039.89 in council tax. The hearing was again called off after he entered into a payment plan with the council. All money owed has since been repaid.