Breaking Exclusive

Excl: Ealing MP and council leader facing court action over unpaid restaurant bill

Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma

Centrist MP Virendra Sharma and Ealing Council leader Julian Bell have been named as co-defendants in a court claim by a local restaurant.

The court papers say that Sharma and Bell – who doubles up as the MP’s office manager – booked the Aroma Banqueting Suite for a central fundraising social through Sharma’s constituency office but never paid the £5,600 bill.

Legal costs and interest have increased the amount claimed to £6877 to date.

Ealing council leader Julian Bell

Locals claim that problems arose for the pair after Ealing Southall CLP (constituency Labour party) elected a new treasurer and new auditors in 2018.

The ensuing audit discovered a number of irregularities, including an admission by the previous treasurer that he had written a cheque from CLP funds for the social event, following a request from Bell and without consultation with any other local party officers. The CLP had played no part in organising the event.

CLP sources allege that officers discovered safeguards over party funds had been bypassed, with the then-treasurer using a cheque book that held numerous cheques pre-signed by a second – and vulnerable – signatory. This second signatory had never been told that a cheque had been used to try and pay the banqueting bill incurred by Sharma and Bell.

The CLP received some funds as some cheques made out to the Ealing Southall Constituency party on the night of the event, but these did not cover the restaurant bill and officers complained that they were  never asked if they wanted to be responsible for the event.

Because of additional problems identified, the bank refused to cash the cheque. After an investigation, the CLP’s General Committee voted in June 2019 not to pay the restaurant bill, as neither Bell nor Sharma have any authority over CLP funds. Sharma had previously told the CLP’s elected auditors in writing that the organisation of the social was nothing to do with him.

Sharma’s history with his CLP has been fraught with problems. Residents have protested for his removal and local members voted last year to ‘trigger’ the MP to begin a selection process for a potential replacement – but he was reprieved by the calling of a general election before the process was completed. Earlier in the year he had lost a no-confidence vote.

Bell was the target of a revolt by councillors over his housing arrangements and was censured by Labour’s local campaign forum (LCF) for his ‘insensitivity‘, ‘unseemly haste‘ and the ‘unnecessary hurt and anguish‘ caused in calling a by-election after the death of a local councillor.

The case has been issued in the county court and has yet to be decided so no legal liability has been established either way.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Julian Bell and Virendra Sharma separately for comment. In a joint statement provided in response, the pair said:

It would not be appropriate for us to comment on this matter as it is currently the subject of court proceedings other than we wholly reject the claim.

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6 comments

  1. Both are well known um, scallywags. Sharma MP only escaped deselection when the calling of the election saved him. Both are very friendly with Property Developers who are working on big projects across the Borough. They are both very much disliked by electors. I think all is revealed in their faces. Would you do business with them?

    1. Obviously they’re not THAT disliked by their electors.

      Normally sharma’s the type of MP you wouldn’t be arsed about losing their seat. I’ll bet he’s a hero to the likes of rh though. Exactly the type of labour MP he would no doubt endorse.

      Had rh been an Ealing Southall constituent be in no doubt Sharma would have had his backing.

      You see, to the likes of rh, all these criticisms about, and scrutiny of sharma can be ignored. Especially when you consider he signed the bill against triggering article 50…That trumps all allegations of mandelsonian sleaze for rh.

      1. It’s one of the safest seats in the country. Yes Sharma won his seat but his written attack on Momentum supporters “bullying elderly voters” and the Hindu and Muslim communities for opposing him and constantly enquiring about his relationship with his favourite Property Developers it was no surprise he was facing certain deselection but that’s the corruption involved with very safe seats – he was always going to win if allowed to stand because Labour was going to vote Labour despite trying to rid themselves of his services.

      2. Well, at least ealing southall CLP actually got as far as triggering sharma.

        The CLP here didn’t even bother triggering the equally odious angela (ill)eagle. Totally unforgiveable, and another reason I refuse to (re)join the party.

        Didn’t get my vote but the rat most certainly got a piece of my mind when it turned up at my front door on the Sunday before the election, the utter disgrace.

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