Complaints on new candidate

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Indy Politics
JOHN RENTOUL

Political Correspondent

Liz Davies, chosen by Leeds North East Labour Party as its candidate at the next election, faces a summons to the Labour National Executive to defend herself against complaints by local members about her selection.

A sub-committee of the ruling National Executive yesterday heard an oral report of two "significant" complaints made against her. Ms Davies, a barrister and hard-left Islington councillor, was fined for not paying her poll tax and sentenced in 1991 to 30 days in jail for non-payment of the debt, but did not go to prison because an anonymous donor paid the money.

One local party member has complained that, although she said she refused to pay the poll tax, she had failed to disclose her jail sentence. The second complaint heard was that she had said that she would not necessarily abide by the Labour whip in the House of Commons if elected.

Ms Davies said last night: "I have heard nothing from the National Executive. This is frankly ridiculous. I said that I refused to pay the tax. I was proud of it." She said of the second accusation: "It is simply not true. Of course I would abide by the Labour whip. I was asked about it at a ward meeting. I said I did not want it to happen - if it did happen it would be a collective decision with the constituency party."

On Wednesday next week, the National Executive is expected to postpone a decision on whether to endorse her candidature for the key Yorkshire marginal seat until she has been called to give evidence to a panel of its members.

In a one-member, one-vote ballot at the beginning of the month, she narrowly defeated Sarah Perrigo, a Leeds councillor and lecturer in peace studies at Bradford University. Ms Perrigo, who describes herself as a "soft left" admirer of Robin Cook and Clare Short, refused to comment.

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