Local MP Streeting also continues support
A group of Labour councillors in Redbridge have announced that councillor and would-be parliamentary candidate Jas Athwal will remain as council leader in spite of his suspension by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) over allegations of ‘serious’ sexual harassment.
Redbridge Labour Group issued a statement on Facebook and Twitter:
Under normal circumstances – as demonstrated in the case of Sandwell Council’s then-leader Steve Eling – suspension by the party would require a council leader to step down. In spite of the claim of ‘full support’, the SKWAWKBOX understands that only a selection of local Labour councillors was contacted before the statement was issued.
Last weekend, Athwal issued a statement on his suspension via social media – implying that it was related to complaints about an incident on 13 August:
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting retweeted both Athwal’s and Redbridge Labour Group’s statement.
However, Athwal’s suspension was not for the 13 August incident – in which members complained that his associates were handing out membership cards to non-members for a branch meeting to nominate a parliamentary candidate to stand for the constituency and behaved abusively during the meeting.
The results of that vote – which nominated Athwal – were annulled by the Labour Party – but the complaint leading to the suspension relates to allegations of sexual harassment, described as ‘serious’ by a Labour source – and dating back months earlier than August.
An anonymised report submitted by independent investigator’s – making Streeting’s and others’ claims of a ‘stitch-up’ nonsensical – after a substantial investigation was judged by an NEC panel to require referral to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), Labour’s highest disciplinary body.
Jas Athwal was contacted for comment on the statement and the actual reason for the suspension. Wes Streeting was asked about his sharing of the statement. Neither responded.
Mr Athwal’s case is undecided, so the suspension does not signify guilt and he is entitled to due process.
However, if he had been a left-wing council leader, many of the same voices raised in his defence would be loudly condemning any councillors or others who ‘circled the wagons’ to keep him in place during his suspension and demanding that he step down until the case was concluded.
And, as has already been seen in cases involving left-wingers whose cases were similarly ongoing, his guilt would be assumed from the outset and pre-judged in the media.
But of course, the right has never been shy of rank hypocrisy.
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