Exclusive

Exclusive: shortlisted Liverpool mayoral candidate Lavelle accused of persistent bullying and hate-speech toward disabled student

Contempt for benefits claimants also facet of Lavelle’s behaviour even after election as Labour councillor, according to colleague

Cllr Anthony Lavelle, from his Twitter profile

Anthony Lavelle, one of two councillors shortlisted by Labour for Liverpool’s mayoral candidacy after the party trashed a shortlist of three women councillors on a pretext, has been accused by a disabled former university classmate of serious bullying, abuse and hate speech specifically targeting her disability.

The accusations first appeared on a newly-created website, with Lavelle’s accuser naming herself only as Malika and listing a horrific series of allegations against the Labour right-winger who by 2016 was already a Labour councillor:

My name is Malika and I was a classmate of Anthony Lavelle in Liverpool Hope university during 2013-2016. He is currently a councillor for Croxteth in Liverpool and is a candidate for the Labour Party to become Liverpool mayor. Below are experiences I experienced with Anthony or that I have personally witnessed:

a. Made derogatory comments about my disabilities
b. Made comments suggesting I was using crutches to scrounge benefits
c. Called me a mistake and wished me dead
d. Always called me out in front of our peers on my disabilities when I was wearing a splint/ support or limping.
e. Demeaned disabled sports making negative comments about the paralympics
f. Bragged about drink driving. I also have witnessed him doing so
g. Refused to clean up after himself stating it was the cleaners job
h. Was constantly forward with female peers who were obviously uncomfortable
i. Made leukaemia and concentration camp jokes

I made a report to the uni on 2nd February 2016 after I felt at breaking point. I was uncomfortable and fearful. I was stigmatised and singled out made to feel ashamed over my disabilities. Shortly after this i was hospitalised due to mental health. The stress Anthony Lavelle subjected me to was a leading contributing factor. I dont believe he should be allowed to stand for mayor holding these views.

His beliefs and views are not in line with the Labour parties disability manifesto which I think is more than reason enough he should not be eligible to stand for mayor.

I am happy for my story to be shared. I dont [sic] think it’s right that a bully is able to have access to the position he has.

The city and national press appear to have ignored the website’s claims. However, SKWAWKBOX has spoken to the young woman and established her identity, as well as the fact that she still resides in Liverpool.

In a series of 2016 emails seen by SKWAWKBOX, Malika wrote to both Hope University’s Students’ Union and to the university authorities to report that the abuse:

  • had been ongoing for months
  • was by two students but in particular Lavelle
  • involved on at least one occasion Lavelle making comments about her crutches and accusing her of only using them to claim benefits
  • involved persistently mocking her in front of others if he saw her limping or wearing a leg-splint
  • made her feel ‘vulnerable, uncomfortable and depressed’ and ’embarrassed about my disability’
  • impacted on her studies

“He called me a mistake”

She described one incident in detail:

One individual has been the main culprit of making me feel bad about myself. His name is Anthony Lavelle. Usually I face his abusive and offensive language head on and I try not to let it affect me. However, on Tuesday 2nd February he made comments about me being in crutches to only claim benefits and making comments on how I must be scrounging off the social.

He was laughing at me with his friends. This is one of many derogatory comments he has made, he has called me a mistake, he has wished me dead and he always calls me out in front of everyone on my disability like if I have to wear a splint or support or if I am limping.

He makes offensive comments about a lot of people not just me and other people are beginning to feel uncomfortable by his [redacted] comments.

This behaviour is making me feel vulnerable, uncomfortable and depressed and it is makking it really hard for me to come to class or enjoy university.

The vice-president of welfare and community of the university’s students’ union at the time described Lavelle’s behaviour as ‘appalling’ and the head of Hope’s history department intervened.

Lavelle’s comments about ‘scrounging off the social’ are consistent with his later views, according to one councillor who told SKWAWKBOX that, during a conversation at the office then held by the council in the Cunard Building in the city centre, Lavelle:

told me that anyone on benefits should have them withdrawn after twelve months because they should have found a job by then. We had quite the argument about it and if he wants to challenge me on it now I’ll face him down. I told him that was disgusting and he shouldn’t be in the Labour party with views like those.

SKWAWKBOX has attempted on multiple occasions to obtain comment on the allegations from Cllr Lavelle in the last twenty-four hours, making clear the imminence of publication and including a link to the Malika article, but he has not answered calls or responded to text messages. His phone is currently set not even to divert to voicemail.

SKWAWKBOX has also repeatedly contacted Labour’s regional director Andy Smith – who was present during the interviews that resulted in the shortlisting of Lavelle and Cllr Joanne Anderson – to ask for comment on the situation and on yet another apparent catastrophic failure by the party to do due diligence on its candidates. Cllr Anderson has admitted since being shortlisted that she has been bankrupted twice and SKWAWKBOX will shortly reveal further issues with her candidacy. No response has been provided Mr Smith..

In normal circumstances, allegations of bullying and abuse toward someone with a protected characteristic would result in immediate suspension of membership by the party pending an investigation – especially when the alleged abuse specifically targets the protected characteristic, triggering hate-speech provisions. Such a suspension would disqualify the candidate from selection until it was resolved.

However, these are not normal times and so far, Cllr Lavelle remains a shortlisted prospective candidate to represent Labour in the election to choose the next mayor of one of the UK’s great cities.

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