Labour row erupts after party bosses dump election candidate in key seat

Posted On: 
6th November 2019

Labour officials have been accused of mounting a "smear campaign" against one of the party's election candidates after she was dumped just days after being selected.

Sally Gimson was last week selected to fight Bassetlaw for Labour.
PA Images

Sally Gimson was last week chosen by party members in Bassetlaw to contest the Labour-held seat on 12 December.

However, Labour's ruling national executive committee refused to endorse the move after allegations were made about her behaviour at a branch meeting in Holborn and St Pancras, where she lives.

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It is understood that one of the accusations is that she shouted at a disabled party member.

Denying the allegations against her, Ms Gimson tweeted: "Thanks so much everyone for their support. Just to be clear I do not recognise the allegations which are vague and part of a smear campaign against me. 

"I’m backed by the Labour party in Bassetlaw and by Holborn and St Pancras and will continue to engage with my lawyers."

In a statement, Holborn and St Pancras CLP said: "[We are] aware that members of the Labour NEC chose to go against the wishes of Bassetlaw Labour members and not endorse Sally Gimson as their Labour candidate. The CLP understands this decision was taken on the basis of events which have happened at our constituency meetings.

"At no point was the CLP contacted by the NEC regarding these complaints and there has never been any prima facie evidence provided to the CLP that would warrant any formal investigation into Sally Gimson's conduct at any of our meetings.

"We are also aware that Sally submitted to the NEC panel evidence and statements from over 20 members of our CLP refuting the unproven accusations, that the NEC would not take into consideration."

Bassetlaw's former Labour MP John Mann, who stood down to become a crossbench peer and the Government's anti-semitism tsar, also backed Ms Gimson.

He said: "So this is how Labour democracy operates now. Allegation made against candidate. She is not told what it is. Allegation is a lie, with witness statements proving this. Candidate found guilty. The emails and witness statements will be dynamite. A show trial.

"I am hearing of Bassetlaw Labour Party members resigning in disgust. Kangaroo court, show trial. They are playing the voters for fools."

But Labour sources insisted the case had been handled properly, and was not linked to the fact that the party leadership had not supported her candidacy.

They said Ms Gimson was interviewed by an NEC panel made up of officials from all wings of the party, who had agreed that she should not be endorsed.

The sources also insisted that CLPs are not involved in the process, and that it would "inappropriate" to share details of allegations with them.

The row came on the same day that the NEC blocked sitting MPs Chris Williamson, Stephen Hepburn and Roger Godsiff from standing at the election.