'Dirty tricks' spark Labour civil war
Council in crisis: Half of Hackney's ruling group faces expulsion after defying party whip and voting for mayor wrongly linked to fraud inquiry
Seventeen councillors defied the party whip by voting for Linda Hibberd after learning that Nick Tallentire, the council leader, had wrongly linked her name to a fraud inquiry. The split could lead to Labour losing control of the council, paving the way for a three-party coalition in Britain's poorest borough.
Terry Ashton, general secretary of the Greater London Labour Party, said yesterday that the rebellion had been referred to Labour's National Executive Committee, which was already investigating allegations of vote-rigging and the establishment of an unofficial policy-making caucus called the Manifesto Group. Most of the 17 are believed to be members.
Richard Burningham, GLLP spokesman, said: "The rule is clear - if councillors form a group in opposition to the Labour Party than they are automatically excluded from the party."
Correspondence obtained by the Independent provides an insight into why the split took place. It shows Mr Tallentire had told fellow Labour councillors he had "grave concerns" about electing Ms Hibberd, 49, the former deputy mayor, as the borough's first citizen.
Minutes of a meeting of Labour Group officers on 8 May show that he claimed to have been told by the council's chief executive, Tony Elliston, that Ms Hibberd could face questioning by the police after being named in a report into council recruitment fraud, prepared by Ian Macdonald QC.
However, Mr Elliston had written to Mr Tallentire earlier in the day saying: "I can find nothing [in the report] which would appear to be critical of Councillor Hibberd."
Despite this advice, the minutes show that Mr Tallentire opposed Ms Hibberd's automatic nomination as mayor (deputy mayor usually becomes mayor in Hackney).
When Meral Ece, the deputy council leader, wrote to the chief executive, asking why he had given such advice to the council leader, the reply was devastating.
Mr Elliston wrote: "It is completely untrue that I have told the leader that the Macdonald report implicates Councillor Hibberd. In your letter, you state that I am supposed to have briefed the leader on this matter ... I didn't."
After being chosen as the candidate, Sharon Patrick, a former deputy leader, was endorsed by Labour headquarters in south London and members were told, in a letter from Mike Penn, the party's constitutional officer, that they were expected to vote for her.
On Wednesday night, however, 17 Labour members, seven Conservatives, six Liberal Democrats and three independents voted for Ms Hibberd. The remaining 19 Labour councillors voted for Ms Patrick.
Mr Tallentire was not available yesterday. Peter Kenyon, the chief whip, said the minutes of the meeting at which he is supposed to have reported the chief executive's briefing were taken by Ms Ece and were "breathtakingly inaccurate". He said Mr Tallentire never claimed to have been briefed. However, a Labour councillor in attendance, who asked not to be named, said he did.
Further, the Independent has obtained a letter from another Labour councillor, Jane Reeves, to the chief executive, in which she says Mr Kenyon told her: "... in the words of the chief executive to the leader ... I was advised that it would be inappropriate for Linda Hibberd to stand as mayor as she is adversely mentioned in the Macdonald report."
Ms Ece declined to comment other than to say she stood by her minutes.
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...