Police launch investigation over Labour councillors’ election

The police are investigating allegations over the conduct of last May’s local elections in Lambeth’s Gipsy Hill ward, where Matthew Bennett – whose state-funded day-job is as the “head of office” for Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE – was elected as a Labour councillor.

Matthew Bennett: head of office for Steve Reed OBE

Matthew Bennett: head of office for Steve Reed OBE

Bennett is now the cabinet member for housing in Labour-controlled Lambeth.

In a statement issued to another hyperlocal website, Brixton Buzz, the Metropolitan Police said, “We can confirm we have received an allegation that a candidate in the recent local elections in Lambeth was ineligible to stand for election. Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Command are investigating the allegation and enquiries continue.”

In Gipsy Hill ward, which borders Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Bennett was elected alongside Niranjan Francis and Jennifer Brathwaite. The police declined to identify which of the three elected Gipsy Hill councillors may be the subject of their investigation.

It is the second police investigation into the Lambeth local elections, following the failure of another Labour councillor, Sonia Winifred in Knight’s Hill ward, to realise that she could not stand in the council elections while being employed by the council as a teaching assistant. As a consequence, a by-election has been called in Knight’s Hill for next month, at a cost of almost £15,000 to Council Tax-payers.

The police are no longer pursuing their enquiries in Knight’s Hill, according to Brixton Buzz.

Labour won 59 of the available 63 council seats in May in Lambeth, where from 2002 to 2006 the council was run by a Conservative and LibDem coalition. In 2014, all 15 remaining LibDem councillors in Lambeth lost their seats as Labour steamrollered their way to a near one-party borough.

Knight’s Hill and Gipsy Hill shared the same Labour election agent, responsible for managing the campaign.

Inside Croydon contacted Reed’s parliamentary office to give Bennett an opportunity to comment, but received no response by the time we published this report.

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2 Responses to Police launch investigation over Labour councillors’ election

  1. davidcallam says:

    This is internecine warfare: Mr Reed and Mr Bennett are both moderate social democratic members of the Labour Party from the wing that won three successive General Election. Inside Croydon takes an editorial line somewhere far to the left of Ed Miliband. The schism that obsessed Blair and Brown for most of their time in government is alive and well, it seems.

    • Think you’ll find that both Reed and Bennett are members of something which calls itself “Progress”.

      Which some would say is a “party within a party”, which of course is strictly against the rules of the Labour Party.

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