Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush calls for JLC to 'clean up' its 'mess'

President also suggests that in the future the JLC 'could find its way to come within the Board’s structure'

    The Board of Deputies president has said he was “deeply concerned” by alleged financial misconduct at the Jewish Leadership Council.

    Jonathan Arkush said the JC’s revelation of the alleged misuse of funds by Jeremy Newmark when he was JLC chief executive five years ago, “came as a shock”.

    Mr Arkush had heard rumours at the time, but claimed his predecessor at the Board, Vivian Wineman, had not informed him about the issue when asked.

    The JLC now needed to find “the strength of character” to “clear up the mess” arising from the allegations, Mr Arkush said.

    Earlier this month the JC reported that an internal audit conducted by the JLC five years ago alleged that Mr Newmark had billed the organisation for thousands of pounds of unwarranted personal expenses over a two-year period, as well as inflating the cost of JLC projects.

    Mr Newmark resigned as JLC chief executive in October 2013, on grounds of ill health. He has denied any wrongdoing.

    Addressing a Board meeting last Sunday, Mr Arkush told deputies he was “very sorry” that the British Jewish community’s integrity had been damaged by the affair. He suggested the Board may now seek to absorb the JLC.

    He said: “I want to assure you that the first I heard about [the allegations] was one day before they were reported, when I was notified of it by the JLC.

    “My predecessor [Mr Wineman], who had been a trustee at the JLC at the time, did not indicate the matters to me when I asked him at the time because he said he was bound by trustee confidentiality to the JLC.”

    Each Board president sits as a JLC trustee during their tenure.

    Mr Arkush said: “It is not our function to do anything other than to offer help and support to another communal organisation that is going through difficulties, and I certainly have no intention of taking any advantage of the situation.”

    However, he added that he wanted “to make sure as part of my duty as a trustee, and to the community, and on behalf of the Board of Deputies, that the Jewish Leadership Council cleans up the mess that it has found itself in.

    “The most important thing the Jewish Leadership Council has to do now is to pursue independent legal and financial investigations, so that they can help repair the damage to the integrity, not just to the JLC’s finances, not just to the JLC’s standard as a charity, but actually to the whole of the Jewish community, because we’ve all been impacted adversely, and I feel very sorry about that.”

    He also suggested that “once the Jewish Leadership Council can find the necessary strength of character to clean up the mess that surrounds it at the moment, we might then begin to look again, as in a way we’ve never stopped doing, how the JLC might come within the Board.

    “I would welcome a state of affairs in the future, whereby the Jewish Leadership Council, probably with a change of name and a number of other changes, could find its way to come within the Board’s structure and therefore be responsible to the democratic will of the elected representatives of our community. That is an aim which I think my successor could usefully look for.”

    Mr Arkush announced last month that he would not stand for re-election as president when his three-year term ends later this year.

    In a written answer to questions from deputies before the meeting, Mr Arkush said the Board had “strong financial controls in place, as well as a culture of transparency”.

    He wrote: “No employee of the Board has a company car. There is a single Board credit card which no employee routinely carries with him or her outside the office.

    “I agree that if any such incident were to occur, it should be reported to the proper regulatory and other authorities and not covered up.

    “You can rest assured that our finances are clean, efficient, well-conducted and full of integrity. We of course have independent auditors.”

    Asked by the JC about Mr Arkush’s comments, Mr Wineman said: “It’s a long time ago. I will have to think about that one.”

    On Wednesday, the JLC announced that it had decided to set up an independent review into the allegations surrounding Mr Newmark.

UK News

Anger over Labour Livingstone resignation collusion

Lee Harpin

Yesterday, 16:22

Anger over Labour Livingstone resignation collusion
The Diary

The Jewish page boys at the Royal Wedding

Jessica Weinstein

Wed, 10:38

The Jewish page boys at the Royal Wedding
UK News

Frankie Boyle claims Israel jokes were censored

Lee Harpin

Tue, 12:05

Frankie Boyle claims Israel jokes were censored
World

US 'could recognise Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights within months'

Daniel Sugarman

Yesterday, 09:17

US 'could recognise Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights within months'
UK News

Philip Roth dies aged 85

Daniel Sugarman

Wed, 09:08

Philip Roth dies aged 85
World

Melbourne sibling stabbing 'could be antisemitic incident'

Daniel Sugarman

Tue, 11:05

Melbourne sibling stabbing 'could be antisemitic incident'
UK News

Meet the original Duke of Sussex – friend of British Jews

Ben Weich

Wed, 14:59

Meet the original Duke of Sussex – friend of British Jews
UK News

Ken Livingstone: Why I quit Labour

Rosa Doherty

Tue, 16:38

Ken Livingstone: Why I quit Labour
UK News

Livingstone 'told what to say about Zionism row'

Lee Harpin

Tue, 09:47

Livingstone 'told what to say about Zionism row'