Redbridge Council leader cleared of Labour 'axe to grind' complaint

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Jas Athwal
Image caption,
Jas Athwal said he had provided evidence the "allegations were untrue"

A council leader cleared of wrongdoing by the Labour Party has said he was the victim of a "malicious complaint" made by someone "with a political axe to grind" ahead of the general election.

Jas Athwal was suspended last October from Labour over "extremely serious allegations".

The Redbridge Council leader said he felt "tortured and betrayed" by the Labour Party.

Labour declined to comment on the investigation.

Mr Athwal was up against Sam Tarry as Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Ilford South at the December election.

Mr Tarry won the seat for Ilford South - replacing Mike Gapes who had held it since 1992.

At the time a local Labour Party member described the suspension as a "naked attempt at a political stitch up".

Labour denied the timing had anything to do with the selection process, despite neighbouring Labour MP Wes Streeting tweeting the suspension was "politically motivated".

'Loved and served'

Mr Athwal's case was referred to the National Constitutional Committee and he tweeted his "delight" he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

He said: "This was the inevitable conclusion of a malicious complaint against me by someone with a political axe to grind and a history of making vexatious complaints.

"I am in no doubt that this malicious complaint was deliberately manipulated for no other reason than exclude me from the selection to become the Labour Party's parliamentary candidate in the Ilford South constituency.

"As a result, I have felt tortured and betrayed by the party that I have loved and served for more than a decade."

Mr Athwal said those responsible for his suspension "must be held to account."

He encouraged Labour to "undertake a thorough investigation".

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