Haringey Council has hit back at accusations it is wasting public money by hiring former Olympic champion Kriss Akabusi as a motivational speaker.

Yesterday, Brian Coleman AM launched a blistering attack on council spending, claiming local authorities have wasted more than £500,000 on “hiring celebrities”, and cited Mr Akabusi's visit to Haringey tomorrow as a prime example.

However, the council has defended the hiring of the Olympic medalist, who is due to help relaunch the borough's housing service after a major reorganisation.

It said in a statement: “Kriss Akabusi is an excellent motivational speaker and his involvement in the launch of the Housing Service is very much about inspiring staff to work harder and smarter, to believe and have pride in the difference they are making, and to provide first class customer service."

Mr Coleman, the London assembly member for Camden and Barnet, said the former athlete's stint tomorrow, in front of around 200 council staff, was “to inspire staff to do better and feel positive”.

He added: “Haringey should be worrying about getting its children’s services sorted in light of the Baby P debacle, not paying ex-Record Breakers presenters to make them feel good about themselves.”

The attack on “profligate councils”, who he says are wasting hard earned taxpayers' money, is surprising coming from Mr Coleman, who has himself been embroiled in several scandals surrounding his expenses claims.

He was roundly condemned last year for claiming more than £4,000 in taxi fares for a nine month period, and came under further fire this year after racking up a £396 bill for one taxi ride because he kept the cab waiting outside for five hours.

He was described at the time as being “reckless with public money”. Haringey Council declined to comment on Mr Coleman's expenses claims.