Derek Rowley, the Secretary of Labour’s Local Campaign Forum (LCF) in the West Midlands borough of Sandwell, has been the subject of serious allegations from Labour members and council employees in the borough – and of further complaints that, contrary to usual procedures, he was not suspended while the allegations were investigated.
The aggression and the injury
Earlier this week, the SKWAWKBOX revealed that further allegations had been made against Rowley of aggressive behaviour leading to minor injury to a female councillor – and of improper running of a candidate selection process at the Great Bridge branch meeting on Tuesday, according to an official observer, with the intent of deselecting the woman councillor whom he had barred from the meeting. Those allegations subsequently appeared in the local Express and Star newspaper.
Yet more allegations against Rowley have now emerged, including claims of vote-tampering, during a selection meeting of the Langley ward in the borough – including by one of the tellers responsible for counting the votes, calling for the meeting to be rerun because of the serious nature of the alleged improprieties.
The Mother’s Day bullying allegations
Rowley has also been accused by local branch secretary Doris Price of trying to bully her into cancelling the selection meeting of Tipton Green branch.
Ms Price submitted a formal complaint in which she alleged that Rowley turned up at her front door on Mother’s Day and
handed me a letter and then proceeded to shout at me again and said I was still telling him lies and that I know what is going on but I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He kept shouting and said I shouldn’t have sent the calling notices out and I am not allowed to speak to B____ and I am not allowed or Mr P____. He was going on and on at me telling me about Great Bridge and Wednesbury saying I must know what is going on but I have no idea.
My husband who is blind was very upset as he could not help me and had to stand by whilst I was being berated by this man.
He told me there would be a meeting on Wednesday about me and he would inform me of the outcome. I have no idea what meeting he is referring to or why he should need to talk about me.
I have no idea what is happening with Derek but he has now shouted at me in a threatening way on two occasions over the telephone and on my own doorstep on Mothers Day. I cannot explain how upset this has made me feel. I am not a paid member of staff just a good meaning volunteer that has taken on the secretary role for Tipton Green. The last thing I want is for this person to shout at me. This completely spoiled my Mothers Day.
The members and councillors who have complaint have been outraged that Rowley was not suspended for investigation, which allowed him to continue to attend and intervene in the recent selection meetings.
Indeed, Iain McNicol’s refusal to suspend Rowley and another senior Sandwell Labour figure is said to have been the trigger for the early announcement last month of his resignation from the position of the party’s General Secretary.
But now it seems Rowley may have finally been suspended. While the SKWAWKBOX revealed that the case of Rowley and a colleague were discussed at the recent meeting of the NEC’s ‘disputes panel’, Labour’s West Midlands regional office only confirmed to complainants earlier this week that an investigating officer had been appointed to investigate the allegations against Mr Rowley – but without confirming his suspension.
The unusual absence
However, whereas Rowley has stubbornly attended branch meetings for candidate selection until now, he was absent from Friday’s selection meeting of the Greets Green and Lyng Labour branch, from an LCF meeting also on Friday and from the Tipton Green branch selection meeting on Saturday.
Members at Tipton Green report that Rowley’s unexpected absence was covered by Sir Albert Bore and were eager to stress that, in spite of him being considered to the right of the party, there were no concerns whatever about his handling of the meeting.
West Midlands Labour could not be reached for confirmation of the suspension and the party would not usually comment on individual cases, but Sandwell members are convinced that Rowley would only be missing from selection meetings if suspended.
A seismic event
The confirmation of his investigation – and his suspension if that is confirmed – will rock the centrist Establishment in Sandwell and across the West Midlands.
Mr Rowley has not responded to the SKWAWKBOX’s attempts to contact him.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.