Questions raised over controversial community campaigner’s inclusion in council project

Posted On 06 Feb 2020 at 9:04 am

Dan Harris’s Facebook post of his namebadge from the Sicily trip, which says he’s there with the city council

Questions have been raised over how a campaigner who regularly harangues councillors and council staff was flown to Italy to take part in a council-supported EU project.

Dan Harris hit the national headlines in 2017 when he was suspended from the Labour party for alleged anti-Semitism after posting a picture of three non-Jewish councillors he regularly criticised on social media with their faces transposed onto dancing rabbis.

By that time, he was already well known to councillors, council officers and contractors who complained about his aggressive approach to advocating for homeless people – an approach which at one stage led the council to refuse to work with him.

But despite this, last year he was selected as one of four members of a group set up by Urbact – a European knowledge-sharing project supported by a council-funded officer – who were flown to Sicily to take part in a conference there.

At the time he posted on Facebook he had been inspired by the conference to step up his campaign against the sale of a community centre to the city council which wanted to build social housing there – including new community space.

As a result of a stormy campaign, in which Mr Harris has flung serious allegations against the centre’s trustees and staff while providing no evidence to back up his claims, the council announced last week it was pausing its plans for housing there.

After raising these issues with Mr Harris, he blocked the journalist on social media and later posted a video accusing Brighton and Hove News of taking backhanders from one of the trustees, Councillor Mary Mears. No evidence has been provided for these claims either.

Dan Harris on the Sicily trip

Councillor Mears said: “It’s really concerning that nobody can make a comment against Dan Harris because if they do, they are verbally abused and so it makes it very difficult to have proper communication around resolving this with residents.

“It’s concerning that council officers are not just excusing but condoning his behaviour.

“It’s such a shame that as a result of Dan Harris’s campaign, trustees we can’t have a proper dialogue with residents without all these serious and completely unfounded allegations that are being bandied about.

“The community should be able to to have a proper consultation and dialogue but unfortunately with this campaign, that isn’t possible.”

Former councillor Caroline Penn, one of those featured in the anti-Semitic video, says Mr Harris has never apologised to her for posting it.

She said: “Over a number of years, Dan Harris has harassed, bullied and smeared not only elected members but council officers and members of the public who have challenged him.

“Dan Harris was also suspended from the Labour Party for antisemitism, for which caused a great deal of distress, for which he never apologised.

“The council has a duty of care towards it’s staff and elected members. As a signatory of the IHRA it also has a duty to stand against anti-Semitism.

“I would question how tax payers money came to be used in this manner. And I hope both councillors and officers will learn lessons to prevent it happening again.”

Former council leader Warren Morgan, another of those featured in the video, said: “When I was leader of the council I made no trips abroad at the taxpayers expense, there just isn’t the money to fund that any more.

“To find out that someone who not only isn’t an elected Councillor, but a person who engaged in nationally-highlighted antisemitic activity and subjected me to regular public abuse, is frankly appalling.

“Serious questions need to be asked at the highest level as to why this person was paid for by the council to go on this trip abroad, and what his political and factional allegiances had to do with it.”

Brighton and Hove News understands that councillors were warned about his behaviour in early 2017, and that a homeless campaign group he formed, Ethrag, was told officers would not engage with it while he was a committee member.

Most recently, he has been a leading figure in the Save the Valley Social Club campaign, and has publicly accused trustees of Whitehawk and Manor Farm Community Association, which runs the centre, including Councillor Mears, of corruption.

Last month he was part of a group of residents who attempted to stop a meeting to dissolve the association by holding a vote of no confidence and electing new trustees.

Amanda Bishop, who has also been suspended from Labour for anti-Semitism after calling on members to march to Hove synagogue in protest at a candidate’s suspension – also for anti-Semitism – took over chairing the meeting.

However, the existing trustees say that the association currently has no members, which has been the case since the centre’s bar closed in 2012.

The meeting was halted when the residents refused to leave at the request of trustees, and police were called. The trustees then went on to vote for the charity’s dissolution.

In a video posted on YouTube of the meeting, two council officers are seen to be present, and one approaches Mr Harris to ask him if he has a copy of the constitution at the end. The council says both were there as observers.

At issue is the wording of clause 4 of the association’s constitution, which reads: “Individual membership shall be open, irrespective of political party, nationality, religious opinion, race or colour, to a) all persons aged 18 years and over living in the area of benefit who shall be called full members [clauses b and c for junior and associate members follow]”

Dan Harris and fellow campaigners argue this means anyone living in the area of benefit – the postcode area BN2 5 – are automatically members.

The trustees say that membership is open but not automatic to residents. A later clause says all member must pay subs – and no subs are currently being paid.

On the campaign’s Facebook page, run by Mr Harris, the snippet of the constitution which reads: “all persons … living in the area of benefit who shall be called FULL members” has been posted – but not the beginning of clause 4 which says this to whom membership is open

A council spokeswoman said Mr Harris’s participation had been decided by council officers working with the local community.

She said: “The project involves linking community groups and providing opportunities for volunteers to meet to share their learning for the good of all.

“Each URBACT partner is required to set up an URBACT Local Group (ULG) for residents and community activists keen to work together to develop their area.

“In Brighton and Hove, the focus has been on East Brighton where there are many community venues, public buildings and open spaces which are supported by a locally active community and could benefit further from this project.

“Mr Harris a member of the Brighton and Hove ULG. ULG member’s views are their own and they do not speak on behalf of the local authority.”

According to budget papers seen by Brighton and Hove News, the council spent £31,130.71 on the project last year, of which £6,000 was spent on accommodation and travel to transnational meetings.

The council says about two thirds of this money comes from the EU.

It is also due to spend £40,098.30 this year, of which £12,000 will be spent on hosting an Urbact event in Brighton.

The council says travel costs of £765.88 for each member, which included return flights, three nights of accommodation, transfers and subsistence, were paid out of EU money.

  1. Jonathan Simons Reply

    A typically contradictory action by Labour’s Daniel Harris – taking advantage of an EU project/funding after campaigning for Brexit! Serious questions need to be asked as to whether his closeness to members of the labour/momentum administration played any role in his selection…

  2. Nick Reply

    Why is our council tax being used to pay for flights for a meeting? Why was such a polluting method used? What other methods were considered – such as video conferencing or land-based travel?

    In a time of little funds was this a good use of our council tax? (even with some part paid by EU). If so, then why choose to pollute more and fly?

  3. David Lepper Reply

    I think Harris cannot be described as “Labour’s Daniel Harris”. I don’t believe he is a member of the Labour Party. He was suspended in 2018 following accusations of anti semitism and I think remains suspended. He might be a membet of Momentum but that organisation is is not part of the Labour Party and is not affiliated to the Labour Party.

    • Jonathan Simons Reply

      Suspended for 2 years? Wow. So then he is still a member and the description is accurate.

  4. Me Reply

    This story is BS, I would like to know where you got some of these sources from and how you can get away with writing such a libelous article?

  5. Penny Hajduk Reply

    Dan at least fights for local issues – he fights with passion, which is why councillors don’t like him. Councillors all too often don’t answer the questions put to them.

  6. Jasmin Reply

    This is a disgrace Labour Party has nothing to do with Dans community work!!! There is a lot of the Whitehawk community that want to save the valley social centre. Dan has worked tirelessly to help us!! Out of he’s own time unpaid!! Why shouldn’t he fight for things that he believes in such as helping people to get house in Brighton it’s a big thing. And also saving community centres what happens when are all gone? Will every community loose its sense of community and social one by one to make room for UNAFFORDABLE housing!!!! Mary Mears is a sly disgrace.

  7. Kirsty Reply

    Dan Harris’s aggression?
    Are you sure this isnt being mistaken for PASSION?
    Dan has helped myself & so many others with housing issues.
    Dan is knowledgable, supportive and far more compassionate than anyone at Brighton Council.
    As for Brightob Council demanding apologies… Where are our apologies when they treat people the way they do!
    The reason Brighton Council refuse to deal with Dan, is because he is able to challenge them & get results.
    Dan is a respected member of the community because of his hard work.

  8. The Bloop Reply

    Sounds to me like the council are jealous that Dan is doing a better job than they could ever do, while highlighting their illegal and inhumane activities – he acts with his heart and not greed.

    They feel threatened by Dan’s compitence – nobody likes being told they’re doing a shit job.

    So, kindly f o with this libellous ‘piece’, grow up and at least try to be a big girl and take a tip from the person who could show you how to do your job – unless, of course, your job is indeed to ‘throw your toys out of the pram’ and scribble your bull rants in crayon as it seems like nobody else could do that better.

  9. P W Reply

    There’s too many people he’s helped for you to try and make him look bad

  10. David Thomas Reply

    Dan Harris is a great, and very effective, campaigner and advocate for the homeless and for the local community. We are lucky to have him on our side.

  11. Charlene Reply

    Harris, has helped myself & others in unfortunate events. I myself do not see why hes being branded in such a manner.

  12. Heather McKenzie Reply

    Did the writer seek Mr Harris’ views for this article? It doesn’t appear so. The purpose of Urbact is to help cities to develop “pragmatic” solutions that are new and sustainable and that integrate economic, social and environmental urban topics. Dan is a very passionate housing campaigner and I can’t think of a better person to be involved in such work.

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      I was emailed an overview, i asked to see the full article before I would be willing to comment as I am not commenting on something I haven’t seen!

      So essentially no. Jo didn’t come back to me, She has my email address.

      I will be writing a full factual response to this article soon. These puppets will never print it so have to publish on my own website.

      If you have written in and posted a comment, please let me know if it doesn’t show here.

      You can write to me if you like.

      Libel libel libel here with a biased political axe to grind by a Londoner so called reporter Smearing me and the good community work I do. May I add for Free. Never ever taken a penny!!!!

      Much love

      Daniel Harris

      • Jonathan Simons Reply

        “Never ever taken a penny” – except for this free boozy jolly at the EU despite campaigning for Brexit and making sure other people won’t have these opportunities in the future.

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      Hi Heather,

      As Dan says above, I did email him a detailed list of the points which were being made – more detailed than what has appeared in the piece.

      News reporters almost never send full articles over for a comment – not least as when you get a comment back, it may well change the article.

      Dan’s response was to block me on social media and post videos accusing me of taking backhanders (which is obviously completely untrue).

      For the record, I’m actually from Essex, not London. I’ve lived in Brighton for more than a decade now though.

  13. Sha Wylie Reply

    I do not know what the agenda is here but it is a disgrace. Dan Harris is s ceaseless campaigner for the vulnerable against all the odds. He had grown up in these communities and understands what the issues really are.

  14. Jo Reply

    your just trying to smear his reputation. Daniel fights for what he believes in and is very passionate about what he does, He helps lots of people and will continue to do so reguardless of this crap written

  15. Sophie Reply

    I support Daniel Harris all the way along with many others , Daniel seems to be trying to do a lot more for the community’s then what any one in the actual council are doing , these people who have said what they have had to say about Daniel are only out to screw everyone over who actually a uk citizen , look At all the homeless on our streets esp of Brighton and what are the government or our council Doing ??? Building new properties for students . Ripping up our roads coursing a lot of pollution , now tell me how Daniel has not helped in anyways because I don’t see him causing people harm and distress I see him helping those who need it those who are vulnerable ect ….. SUPPORT DANIEL HARRIS

  16. Jasmin Reply

    As my last comment was deleted for some reason!! I will write again.. DAN has helped so many people in this community with housing! Park life campaign and now with the valley. What has Labour Party got to do with Dans community work!!

    Mary Mears | Jo Wandsword message from most of us in whitehawk believe their is nothing worse than snobbery and snideness!!!!

    Give the valley back to the community you con and lied to us all for many years!

    And now you are trying to slander dan for your own gain
    Do you have a guilty conscience?

    People that Know Dan will not stand for this FAKE NEWS

  17. Ben Reply

    Dan campaigns tirelessly for many minority groups with no reward, this article is filthily biased….I guess this is the ‘plan b’ that mary Mears spoke of when her plans to seek the club were thwarted by the residents…..typical

  18. Caterina Hinkley Reply

    This article had me torn between jaw-dropping and actually laughing, as it is ludicrous.

    Anyne who knows Dan knows he is a fighter for justice and of the uttermost integrity.

    And the political agenda here is obvious. BHCC have received millions for their Homelessness Project “Trailblazer”. and no difference has been made.

    Also, as I would like to point out, the headline of BHCC’ Rough sleeper’s strategy is: “No one will be sleeping rough by 2020.” Don’t know about you, but last time I checked my watch….

    We need people like Dan who are not afraid to stand up to the establishment, and this attempt to smear him is laughable at best.

  19. jack Reply

    Wow, people are insane. Why would you possibly defend this. we have thousands of committed, hard-working campaigners in the city who do not abuse attack and smear. Dan Harris isn’t fit to lick my shoes. Even if he isn’t a racist/ anti-semetic (hard to believe in the light of the evidence). He clearly acts before he thinks, and even if he thought first, I would not trust his judgements. There is no way the council should fund such a ridiculous person at anytime let alone at a time where local government services are stretched so thin.

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      Care to share your full name or are you gonna hide behind anonymously?

  20. Alan b Reply

    No members since 2012 but me and many of my friends where still on committee till end 2014 then removed from 2015 we didn’t resign or receive letters to take us off looks a bit dodgy membership forms refused to anyone who tried to join the centre on the last accounts amazingly 75000 pound spent But on what they never did any repairs to building. Nothing going on up there for years so who are they paying ?? Nothing on for elderly or kids or people to meet chat mix. Socialise. The trustees are passed it instead of shutting it pass it on and keep in the community for the residents of whitehawk

  21. The Bloop Reply

    Essex. Well that says it all doesn’t it! Actually laughed out loud when I read that part.

    And of course he blocked you! I don’t blame him! Why would anyone want to get in the ring with someone such as yourself?

    You’ve got peace and quiet on one side, or someone trying to trash you based on lies. I know which any logical person would pick.

    People such as yourself who prefer money over the truth are the lowest of the low.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t written for Essex Live/Chronicle. They couldn’t write the truth if their life depended on it.

    Furthermore are you that daft that you don’t realise just how many of us there are? He’s helped waaaay more of us than you realise.

    So go ahead, share your spew on different social media pages to feel big and special about yourself (typical bully behaviour). You, madam, have no class.

    You may be targeting Dan, but those he has helped won’t sit back and just let this happen. So you’ve well and truly shot yourself in the foot here – especially when your quaint little publication hides certain positive comments.

    Loud proclaimations are all very well, but the truth is louder than words.

  22. Liz Reply

    I don’t buy this nonsense one bit. It is quite clear that some members of the council and certain organisations that provide services to the council are smearing Daniel simply because he holds them to account for their inadequate provision to the homeless. He is a local hero in that regard. He may have made mistakes in the past – but I understand that he has expressed regret over ill-judged actions. None of this detracts from what he has done for the homeless in Brighton and Hove. I think this publication should have made much more of an effort to make a more balanced article and I would like to know why that didn’t happen.

  23. Pistol Reply

    “I will be writing a full factual response to this article soon. These puppets will never print it so have to publish on my own website.”

    Hurry up Daniel Harris. Could do with a good laugh

  24. Billy Lauper Reply

    This piece of fiction is not even news. There are people who would not even have a roof over their heads if it was not for Daniel Harris. I also have read several articles and posts where he has apologised for the so called anti Semitism stunt. This article seems very one sided and seems to have its own agenda. Council staff are very dismissive and had people not had Daniel Harris advocating for them the wrong decisions would be made. Several housing decisions have been overturned thanks to Daniels involvement which is worrying how many others are not getting the help they are untitled too.

    This article drifts from one attack to another and no right of reply seems to have been given to Daniel Harris. It’s concerning to me that an article like this can be written without providing much evidence on its claims. It’s all hear say and very incompetent.

    It’s weird how this article mentions several campaigns Daniel is involved with and drifts rather Quickly of its headline story. This has Obviously been written to discredit Harris and is a personal attack and not very good journalism. Once again digging up an incident from 2017. This article Writer, the paper and the people mentioned Are all in positions of some power who would all benefit from Daniel Harris being discredited.

    I condemn this article and the low grade journalism and questionable agenda behind it.

  25. Rupert Rivett Reply

    Not the usual good journalism that I have seen produced by Jo Wadsworth.

    What can be known for sure is that the council isn’t doing a very good job of looking after the weakest in our society. Over the past 15 years Brighton homeless issue has become really bad as we all know. Homes can be built for students but not for those who are stuck in tents on our street or worse. The mentally ill or those addicted to drugs or those who just don’t have a support structure to keep a roof over they heads are seemingly left to suffer right in front of our very eyes in this city. I believe Mr Harris has been doing his best to help people in this city keep a roof over their head so I am suspicious of the approach and ethics of this article.

    My question is, why such a big attack on Mr Harris personally whether his alleged misdemeanours have any true substance or not?

    The decision for the council to spend the money on flying people to other parts of Europe on Urbact jollies was the council decision from what I can gather from this article so why is this all about Mr Harris ? Is there more of an issue here that Councillors don’t like criticism that Mr Harris has offered to the council? Are our council members so weak in character that they can’t embrace criticism and learn from it. Has Jo Wadworth been duped into writing a somewhat one-sided article without really getting into the nitty gritty of what’s really going on here, and by that I mean why is so much money albeit mostly European money being spent on such Urbact visits. What is this Urbact organisation really achieving? If Urbact is truly achieving anything of substance, isn’t it something that could be done by people of Brighton without having to liaise with our European Neighbours? Should the Urbact be coming to Brighton and what other pointless escapades are the Council wasting time and money on when it could be spent directly on helping people in our city.

    Then I read the comments on the article and it seems that there are many people that support Mr Harris and all the work he has been doing in the community of Brighton.

    So ok Jo, Mr Harris didn’t want to correspond with you when you didn’t want to show him the full article that you had written so far, which is his right not to correspond with you but I am interested in what you say about this.

    “News reporters almost never send full articles over for a comment – not least as when you get a comment back, it may well change the article.”

    Is it so bad that you have to change the article if the information or comment you get means you actually should have to change the article because it gives a different view and outcome of said article? Or had your already made your mind up that Mr Harris should be publicly attacked via your news organisation? Or to put it another way should you of published the article if you didn’t really get the full story?

    Jo I am genuinely interested in your view about this because I feel your article is not telling the full balanced story here and it’s coming across as an attack on someone that is obviously a thorn in the side of the council. But on this issue it’s the councils fault that the money has been spent on sending him on a jolly abroad.

    Please forgive me if I have got the wrong end of the stick here but it looks to me that the council made a mistake and Mr Harris has to be publicly shamed and criticised for that council mistake ? None of this adds up?

    By the way People that comment on articles like this that then go on to attack a person that the article is about, who don’t give their full name should have their comments taken down in my opinion. It’s just shocking that people can say things but hide in anonymity of a one name persona.

    Anyway I await your wise words Jo that hopefully put me right, because as it stand I think this article is terrible and in danger of making your readership doubt your journalistic standards……….and I genuinely hope I am wrong.

    I look forward to your reply and other peoples if they feel they have to, but I am mainly interested in your opinion Jo, now that you have maybe had time to think about the other comments made about this article and positive opinions made about Mr Harris.

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      Hi Rupert,

      I did think hard about whether or not to run this article, as I am aware that Dan does work hard in the community.

      But that doesn’t excuse what has been a long-standing pattern of behaviour, which is ongoing as part of his current campaign.

      It’s not acceptable behaviour to sling completely unfounded and serious allegations against anyone who criticises or disagrees with you.

      Even last night, Dan was asking people for “dirt” on another community campaigner, prompted I believe by the fact she had commented on our Facebook page. He later told her he was building a dossier on her.

      He also did the same thing to me – apparently he’s looking into my affairs and I’m taking backhanders. This presumably is because there can be no other explanation for my not reporting on him in an uncritical fashion.

      I mention these two examples as just a couple of the most recent in many allegations of abusive behaviour from him I have been aware of – and in some cases, have seen him engaging in online myself – since 2017.

      The simple fact that he was suspended from Labour for anti-Semitic abuse towards councillors but was later selected to represent the council on a foreign trip is newsworthy.

      You might not be aware – I need to write a follow-up – but the leader of the council has now asked officers to investigate how this happened.

      The context of what has been happening with the Save the Valley Club campaign is also highly relevant.

  26. Pistol Reply

    A fresh allegation from Daniel Harris regarding The Valley Social Club (Look on his timeline). Apparently ‘they’ want to sell it to ‘their friends’.

    He is relentless with continually making up stories

    • Paul Archer Reply

      That is what I have found. If you don’t agree with him or even simply question him, it triggers his paranoid imagination which leads to him slandering those who don’t agree with him and fail to fall at his feet in awe.

  27. Nicky Reply

    Bloody hell,is she having a laugh!
    Leave the man alone to do what he does & cares about,a community that he knows!

    Carry on Dan,there’s loads of people who love you & love how you’re so passionate about the community.

    Big Love Dan..💙

  28. Terry Wing Reply

    I was horrified when I read this article, it is nothing but a personal attack on a passionate volunteer community worker.

    Dan has shown that he cares about people and the structures around us, he sees the flaws and, thankfully, he has the commitment to actually do something about it, rather than be just a ‘keyboard warrior’. He has a passion that should be encouraged and praised.

    I have admired Dan Harris for a few years now and he has guided me when I try to assist homeless people; I am thankful for his knowledge and advice.

    I took a young local person to the Council for housing a few months ago, he is still being passed from one department to another and then another; even after 10-years of being homeless, HE REMAINS HOMELESS! Dan Harris has recently advised me on how this disgraceful behaviour from the Council should be addressed; I thank him for his knowledge and advice. This article would make anyone believe that Dan’s solution would be one of aggression and attack whereas the opposite is true.

    Brighton and Hove News have become The Sun and The Daily Mail versions of local rag publications and I am ashamed that I previously held this instrument, and the reporter, with such high esteem.

    Dan Harris requires a very public apology and substantial financial compensation for this disgusting piece of sensationalism and personal attack. Support him – don’t attempt to ruin him as his many supporters have his back!

    P.S. Just why did you feel the need to write this article, Jo?

  29. Pistol Reply

    Here he goes again!! Completely ignores all his own activities and pulls out the victim card!!

    “If someone physically attacks me in the street I have legal right to self defence with reasonable force, if someone attacks me online I have a legal right to defend myself!

    The issue I have is these orchestrated attacks are being done against me as a means to get a reaction, but these attacks are discriminatory in nature, they are designed and done on purpose by ex councillors and moderate Blairittes and members of progress!

    These people do not have disabilities, there attacks are deliberate knowing I have bipolar and CPTSD, then they fucking claim bullying when I respond.

    They trigger these responses from me and then claim I am the abusive one! Its a set up!

    Jo Wadsworth is in the pockets of some very bad people, Brighton and Hove News must be taken down! Its not a reputable news site.

    I have a right to defend myself and I will continue to do so against such vile people!

    This is a Disability Hate Crime and should be called out for what is it!

    Cllr Daniel Yates, former Cllr Julie Cattell, Carole (Donovan) Bathory, Sue Teddern, Rachael Chessard & Jo Wadsworth! Named and shamed!”

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.