Leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Barry Rawlings said:
“I have just been apprised of this case as the current Leader of the Council. I’m horrified to think any such person could be living in our midst.
“The public will rightly expect me to look at the process the Council followed at the time, which I have done following the Sunday Times enquiry.
“All social housing tenants were – and still are – offered accommodation based on need. The process does of course ensure the applicant is legally entitled to the tenancy but does not involve a background check of their political affiliations or membership of different groups.
“Likewise, all council properties are sold based on Right to Buy legislation, which also does not involve such a background check. Even if it did, we would still have to operate within the law and unless someone is committing a crime this couldn’t be used to withhold the right to buy.
“As far as we know, the Council also followed all its legal obligations under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010, and all other related legislation.
“Barnet Council was not aware of these allegations at the time the council tenancy was offered to the individual, and Hamas was not a proscribed organisation in the UK at the time the property was sold to them under the Right to Buy.
“As soon as the Council was made aware of the allegation, they reported it to the Counter Terrorism Unit at the Met Police.
“We will liaise with other stakeholders including the police and the government in reviewing the full history of this case and will take all appropriate action.
“This has emerged at a time when communities locally need reassurance following the escalating conflict in the Middle East, and we have a responsibility as the Council to ensure we can give that reassurance.
“We have been working closely with the police to ensure our communities feel safe and protected and have additional police officers in place with increased patrols to provide a visible presence and reassurance.”
For more information on work to keep our communities safe: Letters from Barnet Council and the Police regarding community safety | Barnet Council