A former MP leads a call for those responsible to resign as councillors after failing to report a malicious hack attack to the police.
EXCLUSIVE By STEVEN DOWNES
A former MP and councillor of 32 years’ service at Croydon Town Hall has called for the resignation of the leader of the Labour group at the council and for the urgent investigation of another councillor for their parts in the unlawful handling data stolen during a malicious hack attack against this website.
Andrew Pelling was, until May, a councillor for Waddon, where he had helped win the ward from the Tories in 2014. He is one of the victims of the hack attack, as local Labour officials used stolen emails and documents to discredit him and purge him from the party.
Last week, Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary series, The Labour Files, based on evidence of long-standing campaigns by officials at party HQ to undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and expel many of his supporters and those seen to be “of the left”.
Al Jazeera uncovered evidence that showed that Labour HQ was considering actions to try to gag Inside Croydon going back to 2016.
And they also found documents that show serious concerns about how the stolen data was being used, without any reference to the police. These concerns were shared all the way up to the top of the party, including General Secretary David Evans and the shadow Justice Minister, Steve Reed OBE, the Blairite MP for Croydon North.
Al Jazeera’s research also shows that the stolen data files were shared with Clive Fraser, then chief whip of the Labour group on Croydon Council, and Stuart King, then Labour’s deputy leader.
Both were leading figures in the Labour administration of Tony Newman which bankrupted the borough in 2020.
Neither Fraser nor King ever handed over the stolen documents to the police, nor gave any evidence to identify who was their source for the files.
King has been leader of the Labour group since May. His predecessor, Hamida Ali, who is no longer on the council, provided a statement to the programme-makers claiming that she had acted on legal advice from the Labour Party and, barely credibly, from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Inside Croydon also has a record of an interview with King from early 2021 when the councillor was asked why he and Ali, as group leaders, had failed to turn over the stolen data and make a statement to the police.
“It’s out of our hands,” King said. “It’s all down to Clive now,” he said, meaning Fraser.
Fraser is a councillor for Addiscombe West, and is a former “team leader strategic planning (implementation)” in Lambeth Council’s planning department, from a time when Steve Reed was the leader of the council there.
Pelling was one of three Labour councillors targeted by the hackers, who appeared to have been directed to find correspondence with this website. Neither Robert Canning nor Stephen Mann are any longer councillors in Croydon.
Another targeted by the hackers, former Croydon Central Labour Party secretary David White, has been expelled from the party, without having a hearing.
Expelled by Labour, Pelling stood as an independent in May’s Croydon Mayoral election, in which he finished fourth.
Having now seen all four episodes of the Al Jazeera documentaries, Pelling is looking to take what action he can against those who hounded him out of the Labour Party.
“I am particularly disappointed to find out that the leader of the Labour group, Stuart King, was in receipt of my private correspondence and that he did not tell me or the police about it,” Pelling told Inside Croydon today.
“I trust that Councillor King and Councillor Fraser will now be resigning from the council.”
The Al Jazeera programmes, Pelling said, “show Labour are corrupt to the core”.
Pelling said, “Not content with hiding the loss of £193million of the borough’s residents’ money, Croydon Labour, backed by the national party at the highest level, associated themselves with the hacking of whistle-blowers.”
Before joining the Labour Party in 2011, Pelling had been a Conservative councillor, the London Assembly Member and MP (for Croydon Central, from 2005 to 2010).
Today, he said that if King and Fraser don’t resign as councillors for their parts in the lawless hack, “then I would hope that fair-minded Labour Party members will take action to remove them and start to try to repair their party’s thuggish reputation.”
Pelling says that if King and Fraser fail to do the decent thing, he will report them to the council’s Monitoring Officer – the borough’s most senior lawyer – for a breach of the Code of Conduct. This is liable to see a complaint brought to the Town Hall ethics committee.
“I do appreciate that, rather laughably, Councillor Fraser is a member of that ethics committee,” Pelling said.
And he had a warning for Croydon residents, given Labour’s appalling recent record for losing and abusing people’s personal and private information.
“Residents should be careful in giving personal data like party political preference and contact details to a Croydon Labour party which has associated itself with hacking,” Pelling said.
Inside Croydon contacted Councillor King for comment, asking him what action he intended to take over Fraser’s unlawful handling of stolen material, and his own failure to act.
King has failed to respond to our questions.
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection
Read more: Chief whip worked with group that attacks council policy
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: anti-racism campaigner expelled by party
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed provided endorsement for Stanger
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