Labour Backs Paedophile Slur Candidate
Convicted criminal and hate-monger gets Labour funding.
London - 26 November 2007
The Labour Party has been funding the expected £30,000 legal costs of disgraced Labour councillor Miranda Grell. Her appeal against conviction is due to begin today, Tuesday 27 November, at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Grell was convicted on 21 September of smearing a rival gay Liberal Democrat candidate, Barry Smith, as a paedophile - in breach of electoral law - during a homophobic dirty tricks election campaign in Waltham Forest in 2006.
The tactics worked. Grell unseated Smith, a sitting Liberal Democrat councillor; overturning his massive 600-vote majority. Many people say that this abnormally high swing to Labour can only be adequately explained by Grell's paedophile smear campaign.
Following her conviction, the judge at Waltham Forest Magistrate's Court barred Grell from public office for three years, fined her £1,000 and ordered her to pay £3,000 towards the prosecution costs. Grell strenuously denies the allegations and is appealing against her conviction.
Note: Sources for all the information in this news release are listed at the end.
Three Labour MPs - Diane Abbott, Harry Cohen and Dawn Butler - are reportedly standing by Grell. She has been previously promoted as a rising black star in Labour politics and a future black woman MP.
Miranda Grell is an aide to Labour's Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron. Since her conviction she has not been sacked - only suspended. It is unclear whether she has been suspended on full pay or not.
"If she had been convicted of racist smears, Grell would have been instantly dismissed from City Hall and no Labour MP would have defended her," said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell.
"Labour is guilty of double standards. It is tough on racism and weak on homophobia.
"Defending a convicted dirty tricks campaigner is a new low for Labour. Gordon Brown says he wants to restore integrity to politics and that he supports lesbian and gay human rights. By backing Grell, Labour is endorsing homophobia and cesspit politics.
"The appeal by this convicted and disbarred Labour councillor looks like the desperate bid of a desperate bigot to cling to power.
"Grell's Labour running mate in the election campaign, Nicholas Russell, the Labour representative on the UK Disabilities Forum, was appalled by her dirty tricks campaign. He testified against Grell; helping expose her homophobic tactics and what he describes as her "disgusting attitude".
"This case is a personal tragedy for Miranda. I feel sorry for her. She showed great promise as a local campaigner. It is never pleasant to see anyone disgraced. But based on the court evidence, she seems to have bought this trouble on her herself, and she has compounded it by her apparent failure to apologise to Barry Smith for the immense distress and suffering she caused him," said Mr Tatchell.
Grell was found guilty at Waltham Forest Magistrate's Court in on 21 September 2007 on two counts of making false statements about another candidate during the local council elections last year - for personal political advantage, in breach of electoral law.
Grell was found guilty of spreading false allegations that Waltham Forest Liberal Democrat councillor, Barry Smith, aged 56, was a paedophile.
The prosecutor, Gareth Branston, said that during her election campaign Grell advised local voters: "Don't vote for Barry because he's a paedophile." She led a "whispering campaign" designed to play on constituents' "fears and aversion to paedophiles", he claimed.
One witness, Naomi Robinson, gave evidence to the court:
"Miss Grell told me to ask him [Mr Smith] about his 14-year-old boyfriend as she was driving away from the front of the house.
The court heard testimony from another witness that Grell had warned local voters:
"Don't vote for Barry because he is a paedophile" and "Have you heard about him sleeping with Thai boys? His boyfriend is 16, he is dirty".
Caroline Dargan, a former chairman of the local Neighbourhood Watch, told the court how Grell canvassed her: "There was a suggestion that he [Mr Smith] had a leaning towards young oriental boys," she said.
Another local resident, Kevin Sorkin, testified that Grell had mentioned to him that Mr Smith "was a paedophile and how he slept about with Thai boys under the age of 15".
In fact, Smith's partner is 39 years old. He is Malaysian and they have been together in a permanent relationship for 13 years.
"Grell admitted in court some aspects of the allegations against her, including spreading the fact that Smith is gay and that he had a teenage boyfriend," added Mr Tatchell.
"She conceded that what she did was wrong, according to the BBC. This refutes her subsequent claims, and the current claims of her Labour backers, that all the allegations against her are false.
"It is now alleged that Grell may claim during her appeal that she is the victim of a racist conspiracy; a claim that she appears to have not made previously. In court in September, Grell merely claimed that the allegations were fabricated by people who were disgruntled that she had won the seat from Smith. According to the reports that I have read, she made no mention of racism at all.
"Grell unseated Smith, winning the previously rock-solid Lib Dem seat. But following her conviction she has been suspended as a councillor, pending her appeal result.
"Grell's false allegations against Smith coincided with him being threatened, abused and spat at in the street. On one occasion, he was followed home from a shop by two men who accused him of having sex with children and said: "We know where you live."
Fearing that he could be murdered by anti-paedophile vigilantes, Smith was forced to flee his home, move out of London and relocate to the north of England.
"If Grell had apologised to Smith and to local voters, she might have won herself some sympathy for trying to make amends. But there is no reference to her ever having said sorry on her website or in any of the media reports I have read.
"Her failure to say sorry to Mr Smith for wrecking his life and forcing him and his partner to leave their family home suggests that she is an unpleasant, unrepentant person who is not deserving of empathy or forgiveness.
"The misnamed Justice for Leyton Ward campaign, set up by her Labour supporters, gives a highly selective account of the evidence presented in court against Grell and specifically fails to mention that one of her fellow Labour candidates testified against her. His evidence refutes Grell's claim that the case against her has been concocted by her Liberal Democrat rival.
"Labour's tactics in Waltham Forest were worse than the smear campaign against me in the Bermondsey by-election. Lib Dems resorted to dirty tricks in Bermondsey but they never stooped this low. They never tried to defame me as a child molester.
"It is truly shocking that Labour is supporting a convicted criminal who engaged in a homophobic smear campaign against a rival candidate who is gay.
"After her conviction, Miranda Grell was suspended but not sacked as an aide to the Labour Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron. This shows that Labour is a party that is soft on homophobia and colludes with homophobes.
"No Londoner who supports progressive politics and gay human rights can possibly vote Labour while it protects and funds candidates who resort to homophobic slurs and character assassination.
"This is just the latest Labour dirty tricks campaign. It follows a series of Labour voting fraud scandals, where Labour councillors in Birmingham and elsewhere have abused the postal vote system to secure their victory at the polls," said Mr Tatchell.
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