A petition calling for an investigation into former Lewisham Council chief executive Ian Thomas’ abrupt departure has been handed to the council, after reaching more than 2,000 signatures.

Gwenton Sloley, a leading anti-gangs advisor who worked for Lewisham Council for 10 years, told the council he had started the petition under another name because he was still working for the council at the time.

Ascertaining the circumstances surrounding Mr Thomas’ sudden departure last October continues to be a priority for residents, with seven public questions addressing the issue at a full council meeting.

Mr Sloley said former council boss Mr Thomas, who is now chief executive at Kingston Council and was recently made a CBE for his services to local government and children’s services, had empowered young people in Lewisham.

“After seven months Ian Thomas was pushed out of Lewisham Council as a chief executive,” he said.

“He had started to empower the young people in the community as being a role model as the first BME [black and minority ethnic] CEO in Lewisham.

“What corruption did Ian come across within the council as he was cleaning up?

“This needs to be investigated. We need a transparent council. We need a democratic council. We also need accountability – why is he being pushed out after going through vigorous vetting?”

Lewisham Council announced in October that Mr Thomas was leaving the role, with the council “taking a new direction.”

The council’s announcement also explained Mr Thomas was appointed in March, before the local elections in May.

However, seven of the nine councillors and council staff on the appointments panel are part of the present administration, including Mayor Damien Egan and members of his cabinet Cllr Brenda Dacres, Cllr Amanda de Ryk and Cllr Kevin Bonavia.

Former Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and former Lewisham Green Party councillor John Coughlin were also on the panel.

Mr Sloley left his employment with Lewisham Council in October after drugs police wrongly raided his home.

Council responses to public questions maintained the Mayor did not terminate Ian Thomas’ contract, and said the council does not comment on any individual employment matters.