Source: Labour List UK
Labour’s selection process in Ilford South, which was supposed to conclude today, is set to be reopened after one of the frontrunners in the race was suspended from the party.
Over 500 members, according to local sources, were present at the meeting that had been prepared to select a parliamentary candidate to replace Mike Gapes.
Instead, it was recommended that nominations be reopened and the selection process rerun. The meeting voted in favour of the move.
The other leading candidate in the race, Sam Tarry, who it is thought would have won today had the vote gone ahead, spoke in favour of the postponement.
He tweeted: “I am gutted that the selection process in Ilford South has been suspended today, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
“I am proud to have run a positive, people-powered campaign with hundreds of local supporters. I look forward to winning the vote when it comes back.”
Other selections are currently suspended and it is unclear whether the new process in Ilford South will be undertaken as a priority.
A member of Labour’s ruling national executive committee told LabourList that the recommendation to postpone the process resulted from a personal intervention by Jeremy Corbyn.
Local council leader Jas Athwal was suspended from the Labour Party on Friday following a meeting of a panel dealing with sexual harassment complaints, LabourList understands.
A Labour source commented: “Anyone claiming this is a stitch up is dismissing extremely serious allegations against this individual.
“This decision was taken by a panel following a report from an independent investigator from a specialist organisation. The case was anonymised so the panel did not know who the individual was.
“The timing has nothing to do with the selection process. Yesterday was the earliest opportunity for the case to be reviewed following the independent investigator’s report.”
The only disciplinary cases handled by independent investigators are ones concerning sexual harassment.
It is understood that such cases are anonymised and the panel was not told that the individual concerned was Athwal.
Athwal’s case has been referred to Labour’s highest disciplinary body, the national constitutional committee.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with the party’s rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases.”
The Ilford South selection had already become controversial last week when another shortlisted applicant, Sonia Klein, dropped out and endorsed Athwal.
The move surprised many members as Klein is a prominent local activist from the Labour left, whereas Athwal is often considered to be a ‘Corbynsceptic’ on the basis that he backed Owen Smith in 2016.