In 2019, Haringey Council donated a business park to a local rapper, Smurfie Syco, at zero rent. Two years later, the site was decimated and the board’s decision-making was the subject of an internal investigation.
“In 2017, I had an encounter with God,” says Teriy Keys. “It was surreal.”
It’s Monday July 19th and Teriy has invited Ham & High for a tour of a run down courtyard on Station Road, hidden between a row of shops and Alexandra Palace Station.
Formerly a rapper, signed to Dizzee Rascal’s label as Smurfie Syco, Teriy says his “epiphany” came after visiting the site to use a recording studio.
He had toured with Dizzee and attended the Brit Awards – but upon returning home and seeing his struggling peers, he said he realized, “I need to be physically in my community to do Something.”
Two years later it was installed by Haringey Council as a tenant-owner at 141 Station Road, tasked with turning it into a youth center.
“The vision for this is New Eden,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a botanical garden with beautiful wooden chairs, wind chimes, seasonally changing murals, people from the community raising their children here.”
But today that Eden has, in Teriy’s words, been “wiped out”.
Empty alcohol bottles are strewn everywhere. Garbage is piling up. The ground is littered with cans of nitrous oxide, also known as “hippie crack”.
Teriy attributes the destruction to the criminals, who he says are engaged in a “targeted” campaign against him, breaking and entering, throwing parties and even changing the locks.
He claims to have been banned from his own recording studio since April.
They see him as an easy target, he says, because he is openly religious. It left him “broken”.
But, he adds: “This property is a community asset. If I take it out and give it back to the board, it’ll fall into their business portfolio … It’ll be lost. God did not bring me into this space to fail.
Barely 24 hours later, Ham & High learned that Teriy had already been ordered to return the keys and leave the site.
It was due out on July 15 – the same day he invited us on a tour.
Teriy’s lease is now the subject of an internal council investigation.
The investigation was triggered by Ham & High.
In June, we were approached by Eugene Lebedenko, who began renting accommodation at 141 Station Road to the previous tenant-owner in 2018.
Since 2019, he has complained persistently to Haringey’s council that the site has become a hub for anti-social behavior, including late-night parties, drug use, and strangers entering the yard and behaving in threatening ways.
Twice this year, Eugene sent CCTV footage of criminal activity at the site to Haringey’s council.
It showed a series of illegal parties during the coronavirus restrictions, where attendees appeared to snort drugs.
On New Year’s Day, two men were filmed overpowering and beating a third man.
Haringey’s counsel says he missed Eugene’s videos but, after Ham & High asked questions about them, passed them on to the Metropolitan Police.
“I was the one being attacked,” Teriy said.
He claims he came to the yard on New Years Day to pray and encountered intruders.
“These guys are addicted to cocaine, drugs,” he continues. “Their eyes are glassy. Offensive speech. And I am attacked by them and I am very sober.
He says he has been in “constant contact” with the police about break-ins.
“I call the police, I get no support,” he says. “January 1, police report. April 6, police report … Nothing. The police won’t arrest anyone.
Met police say they have no record of any reported incidents in the yard on Jan.1 or April 6.
A break-in was reported on July 2 – two days after Ham & High reported on Eugene’s CCTV – but the case was closed, pending further investigation opportunities.
Although Teriy denies any guilt for the incidents filmed by Eugene’s CCTV, he was in charge of the site.
“We expect all tenants of council-owned properties to adhere to appropriate standards of behavior,” said council head Peray Ahmet.
“When allegations are made against an individual or an organization, it would be normal procedure for us to investigate and make the right decision. “
The council has also launched an investigation into how Teriy first became a homeowner.
In 2017, Teriy appeared in a documentary called TOTTENHAM x TERIY, talking about an organization he founded called ROAD (Righteous Organized Always Defined).
He described it as a music business and social enterprise that offered professional qualifications in music production, videography, photography, and business.
On September 18, 2019, the tenants of 141 Station Road were informed that ROAD was their new owner.
But an investigation initiated by the council’s new political leadership has raised questions about the bidding process.
In spring 2019, existing tenants were invited to bid to become tenant-lessor.
Eugene kept correspondence showing the winner was supposed to pay £ 10,000 in rent per year, plus business rates.
It has since appeared that Haringey gave the site to ROAD for nothing.
It also appears that there was no organization called ROAD at the time.
Teriy – registered with Companies House as Teriy-Severo Kiiza – established a company called Righteous Organized Always Defined Ltd in 2011.
But it was listed as dormant every year from 2012 to 2015, then was compulsorily written off in 2016 due to inactivity.
In 2016 and 2017, he created three other companies – ROAD Visual Arts Limited, ROAD Academy and Training Center and 1 ROAD Training Limited.
They were automatically canceled in 2017 and 2018, having never filed accounts.
Companies House records show that in 2014, Teriy gave her name as HRH Prince Teriy-Severo Keys.
He registered the following companies under the name Teriy-Severo Kiiza Esquire.
His LinkedIn profile claims that in 2014 he was granted the freedom of the City of London by Her Majesty the Queen, allowing him to use the title Esquire.
The Royal Household says the City of London gives this award, not the Queen.
The City of London has no record of Teriy receiving the award.
Teriy told Ham & High that he would answer questions about these issues in writing, but he did not.
Paul Sherring, who ran a Kombucha business from the site, has made repeated complaints of deteriorating conditions after ROAD took over.
“Surely you would have thought that the board would check someone’s validity before giving them the contract for a plot,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to me that they’ve done their homework.
In addition to not checking ROAD, Paul believes the board has ignored complaints about the site under his management.
“It just got worse and worse,” he says. “They were making more and more noise. There were drunk and stoned people wandering around and doing what they wanted, when they wanted. It was just anarchy. There was no one in charge. “
“In 2017, when I came to this site, I just had a revelation,” Teriy says.
“I was making music, I was doing fine… But I just had an epiphany and I was like, you know what – shutting down all the businesses. Do not deposit accounts. No. I’m just shutting it all off. Sell stuff. Get money, buy equipment – I open a studio and I come into the community and do something for the people.
He insists he “never took a dime out of this place,” though he goes on to say that he charged rent to a barber and billed for time spent in the studio.
When asked how he reported this income, he produced a debit card from an online bank, which he said is his “community organizer account”.
The name printed on the card is “African Development UN”. When asked what the UN stands for, he said he didn’t know.
“This money was directly reinvested in the site, so there was no profit or anything like that,” he says.
When asked how he maintains himself, he replies: “I have succeeded in music. I always get my royalties and my streams. So I take my own money and put it in.
By becoming a homeowner, he said, he knew he would meet “a new level of opposition.”
“New levels, new demons,” he explains. “I know what is going on are powers and principalities in high places and their focus is not me. They just want that trump card.
“Whenever concerns are raised about how our business processes work, we will look at whether improvements can be made in the future and we do so in that case,” says Cllr Ahmet.
“In addition, we have already tightened our property governance agreements around the rental of properties and their day-to-day management.
“We granted ROAD permission to occupy the site at 14 Station Road in good faith in 2019, because they had done positive work with young people in the region.
“The council seeks to support community organizations in a number of ways, including allowing them to use buildings that would otherwise be vacant pending redevelopment.”