Toby Harris, Baron Harris of Haringey
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Harris of Haringey
|Member of the London Assembly
for Brent and Harrow
4 May 2000 – 10 June 2004
|Preceded by||New constituency|
|Succeeded by||Bob Blackman|
|Born||11 October 1953|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
Harris was educated at the independent Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, then at Trinity College, Cambridge. While there, he was President of the Cambridge Union Society and chairman of the Cambridge University Labour Club, but also a member of the Cambridge University Liberal Club.
He is a former councillor and leader of Haringey Borough Council, and was chairman of the Association of London Government. He was made a Life Peer on 5 August 1998 as Baron Harris of Haringey, of Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey. He was a Haringey councillor for 24 years, and stood down in 2002, two years after being elected to the London Assembly for Brent and Harrow in 2000.
As leader of Haringey Council, he had the job of dealing with the multimillion-pound overspending under Bernie Grant's leadership on restoration of Alexandra Palace, which the council holds in trust for the people of London. He did not accept the decision of the Attorney-General in 1991 that the politically embarrassing overspending by the council as trustee was unlawful and so could not be charged to the charity. Instead he maintained that the charity "owed" the council £30m, charged compound interest on this "debt", and tried to offer the whole Palace for sale, a policy his successors are still trying to carry out despite it being stalled in the High Court in 2007.
One of the criticisms during his leadership was the expenses he incurred. Over the course of one year, his expenses were more than £24,000, including more than £15,000 spent on taxis. Although the District Auditor's investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing, it was critical of the flaws of the system he implemented, which meant that council executive members were never sent invoices for such expenses and so didn't check the actual amount that the council was being charged.
Harris was the Leader of the Labour Group on the Assembly until he lost his seat at the 2004 Assembly election. He was the first chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority from 2000 to 2004, overseeing the introduction of police community support officers and neighbourhood policing. He is now the Home Secretary's representative on the Metropolitan Police Authority with responsibility for overseeing the work of the Metropolitan Police in countering terrorism and in security.
Harris is a senior adviser to KPMG, Transport for London, and a number of other public and private sector organisations. He was Director of the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (then the national statutory body representing users of the NHS) from 1987 to 1998.
He is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and is Treasurer of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee. He is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee looking into "Personal Internet Security". In the House of Lords, he specialises in policing matters, local government, technology and health issues.
- Former Members of London Assembly – Toby Harris
- Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 26 October 1998
- Freedom Charity.