Prescott interrogates Walsall's Citizen Dave

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The Independent Online
A team of Tony Blair's senior trouble-shooters met suspended leaders from Walsall District Labour Party behind closed doors yesterday to investigate claims of intimidation tactics, writes Peter Victor.

Council leader Dave Church, dubbed locally Citizen Dave after the left- wing television character Citizen Smith, spent two hours before the panel.

Labour's deputy leader, John Prescott, and Clare Short, a national executive committee member and Birmingham Ladywood MP, were among those interviewing Mr Church at the Boundary Hotel in Walsall.

Mr Prescott was met on arrival at the hotel by a demonstration of council employees angry at Mr Church's plans to make 30 workers redundant.

Mr Prescott said: "It is important to come and listen to the people involved. The NEC needs to be fully informed about the reports they have received."

Before meeting Mr Prescott, Mr Church said he was there to prove the integrity of his local district party: "What we are really going to say to them now is that we expect you to either put up or shut up. We expect you to prove there has been bullying, intimidation and threats or alternatively admit it was all a big mistake." He left the meeting without comment.

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