Suspended leader of Slough Borough Council (SBC) Sohail Munawar was suspended by the Labour Party pending the outcome of an investigation by the council’s Monitoring Officer (MO) into allegations that he circulated a ‘disturbing’ video via WhatsApp. Councillor Munawar maintains that he had received a file containing the video and a trojan or virus that sent out the video to his contacts. Unspecified allegations were also made regarding his ‘attitude and behaviour’.
The MO today issued provisional findings resulting from the investigation – concluding that Cllr Sohail has no case to answer as regards the council:
The findings are a qualified exoneration, as they specify that no offence was committed in regard to Cllr Munawar’s activities or status as a councillor – but they imply that the Labour Party should have conducted its own investigation, which appears not to have happened.
The situation in Slough Labour group appears to be complicated and opaque, with accusation and counter-accusation. It is further muddied by the fact that another senior councillor, who faced specific allegations of potentially sexist and racist bullying and discrimination was apparently not suspended, in spite of the severity of the allegations, which cover a period of time:
This councillor’s opponents in the Labour group maintain that he has not been suspended because of his closeness with certain personnel at a regional level within the party. In spite of assurances by email, seen by the SKWAWKBOX, that the matter would be investigated, there appears to have been little or no progress.
Given the immediate suspension of Cllr Munawar – and the swift suspension of Labour MPs and Assembly members for what appear to be lesser allegations – the fact that no similar action was taken against one particular councillor is at the least puzzling.
Council leader Munawar faces a confidence vote in his leadership, over unrelated concerns, at the next meeting of SBC, which takes place 28 November. However, in view of the outcome of the Slough MO’s investigation his supporters believe that he should immediately be reinstated to the party and as council leader pending the result of the confidence vote.
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