Croydon could soon be facing a second council by-election, after the ruling Labour group today withdrew the party whip from Matthew Kyeremeh and urged him to stand down as a councillor for Thornton Heath following a very messy divorce case and critical statement issued by the presiding judge.
According to a Redhill-based newspaper, council leader Tony Newman said of his now suspended Labour Party colleague, “I hope he resigns sooner rather than later.”
Newman might be seen as speaking somewhat prejudicially, as Kyeremeh is considering an appeal against the judgement and possible complaint over the conduct of the court.
Family court proceedings usually remain private, but Croydon District Judge Coonan was extremely critical of Kyeremah, saying that he had “fraudulently” hidden assets from his mentally ill wife, leaving her destitute and forced to sleep rough in a local park.
The judge decided to publish the judgement due to Kyeremeh’s role as the council’s deputy cabinet member for communities, safety and justice.
Croydon already has one council by-election on its hands, likely to be on May 5 alongside the London Mayoral elections, following the resignation of The Hon Emily Benn as a councillor for West Thornton ward. The local Labour Party received around a dozen applications for selection as the candidate in that safe ward.
Now Newman appears in a terrific hurry to create a second vacancy.
But it is not as if Croydon Labour’s leadership did not have plenty of notice. Kyeremeh’s case had been on-going since 2013.
Newman and his colleagues had been aware of issues around Kyeremeh for some time, going back to before selections of candidates were made for the last local elections in 2014. Kyeremeh’s absences from council meetings were, at that time, explained away as being due to family or church matters in West Africa.
Newman opted not to act then, and he seemed relaxed enough about the prospect of the Kyeremeh court case that he chose to appoint the Thornton Heath councillor to key positions within the council, including chair of the audit committee and as cabinet deputy on communities, safety and justice to Mark Watson.
The case was concluded in July last year, the judgement published on Monday.
Newman is understood to have spoken by phone to Kyeremeh on Tuesday, when he urged him to resign as a councillor.
“That would be the right thing to do given this damning judgment,” Newman told asmall circulation newspaper, the local politician describing himself as “shocked and disgusted”.
“I do not think it would be appropriate for him to remain as an elected councillor,” said the man who in the past two years had appointed Kyeremeh to senior roles within his own administration.
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