Legal wrangles threaten to damage Labour campaign

Labour’s campaign to win back control of Croydon Council has encountered legal complications and a touch of scandal this week, with a challenge over selection being taken to a judge, threats of deselection of other candidates, and a party official pleading guilty in court to charges relating to his videoing men urinating in the toilets of the Centrale shopping centre.

David Christison: guilty plea on two counts

David Christison: guilty plea on two counts

David Christison was before Croydon Magistrates on Thursday charged with two counts of observing a person doing a private act. It was reported in court that he had done this for sexual gratification 30 times in two years, which was discovered after Christison had been arrested by police in April last year.

Christison is the ward secretary for Labour in West Thornton, where Emily Benn, the grand daughter of former Labour minister Tony Benn, is standing for election.

In 2010, Christison was one of the candidates in the local elections in Waddon, and he put his name to a challenge to the result when many constituents were unable to vote because of queuing and delays at under-staffed polling stations.

Christison did not make it on to Labour’s list of approved candidates for the 2014 local elections.

The Labour party is expected to make a decision on Christison’s role in West Thornton over the weekend.

Tony Newman, the Labour group leader on Croydon Council, failed to return calls to Inside Croydon.

Raj Rajendran: told by judge to seek proper legal advice

Raj Rajendran: told by judge to seek proper legal advice

Newman may well be pre-occupied with the threat of legal action over Labour’s selection process of candidates for May’s local elections.

As we reported last July, Councillor Raj Rajendran, who was first elected in Bensham Manor in 2006, did not even make it on to Labour’s list of approved candidates for 2014.

Labour’s candidates in Bensham Manor will be Alison Butler, the group’s deputy leader, Humayun Kabir, who is presently councillor for West Thornton, and Jamie Audsley.

Rajendran has since challenged his exclusion, starting a court case against Croydon Labour official Allison Howe and the London Labour Party that seeks to have all candidate selections re-run. But according to a briefing note seen by Inside Croydon, “He has been advised by the judge that this will not be awarded by the court and he should consult a solicitor to ask what he could reasonably seek.”

But a candidates’ contract, which has been circulated to all those who have been selected to stand for Labour in May, could create further issues since some have refused to sign the document and are being threatened with summary deselection.

The contract makes a series of demands of prospective candidates, requiring them to spend set amounts of time canvassing in key wards in addition to any campaigning they be doing in their own wards.

“This risks damaging Labour’s campaign badly,” a source familiar with the situation said today. A significant part of the problem is that the Labour group, which conducted most of its ward selections during 2013, has only recently finalised its document for its candidates.

“The contract is not a very robust legal document, it was presented to people after they agreed to stand as candidates, and it fails on multiple issues under existing unfair contracts legislation,” our source said. “Above all else, it makes demands which are simply impractical for some candidates who have full-time jobs.

“If Labour carries through its threat to deselect anyone who refuses to sign the document, the publicity alone will undermine their campaign, possibly at a vital time in the build-up to the elections.”

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3 Responses to Legal wrangles threaten to damage Labour campaign

  1. davidcallam says:

    And this is the party that seeks to run Croydon Council for the next four years. Your report suggests it couldn’t run a bath.

  2. No, DC.

    It is a party where people may challenge decisions for the good of the party and make a difference.

    It is a party where there are individuals who cannot be crushed into blind obedience.

    It is my party and I will do my damnedest to see it grow stronger.

    I take showers: healthier and cleaner

  3. Couldn’t organise a drinks event (being very polite because of the moderator) in a brewery and they want to run the council.

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