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Islington Labour drop council candidate after misconduct allegations

Peter Owen Peter Owen

Friday, May 2, 2014
8:00 AM

A Labour Party council candidate has been deselected ahead of the May elections over allegations of inappropriate conduct.

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Peter Owen was due to stand in Highbury East ward alongside two other Labour candidates.

His photo and name appeared on Islington Labour publicity material in March but has since been replaced by Muhammad Kalaam.

Islington Labour confirmed an investigation into the allegations against Mr Owen was underway.

Mr Owen, a resident vice-champion and chairman of Vaudeville Court Tenants Association, strenuously denies the allegations and said the local Labour Party had acted against the rules by not allowing him to stand.

Deputy leader of the Islington Labour Party, Cllr Paul Smith, said: “The party is investigating the claims which is standard procedure and the result will be determined by the National Constitutional Committee.”

He said the outcome should be decided within two to three months.

Mr Owen said: “An allegation has been made by a senior male officer and I’m keen to have it resolved but unfortunately the local party has acted against the rules.

“I have not been allowed representation and no evidence has been presented to me. The party removed my endorsement and I am bitterly disappointed. It’s outrageous how they have acted and dragged this out so long.”

Mr Owen said the allegation was made in November, a month after he was selected as a candidate.

“There is no substance to the allegations and I refute them entirely,” he said.

Labour is expecting to retain control of the town hall at the elections, where it currently holds 36 of 48 seats.

Of the party’s candidates standing this year, 18 are women, including Aysegul Erdogan, a Kurdish singer who is standing in Highbury East ward. A total of 14 come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and there are also seven aged under 30.

Ten Labour councillors will be stepping down.

The Liberal Democrats, who hold 11 seats on the council, have also put forward a full complement of candidates, led by party leader Terry Stacy.

They include 19-year-old Tahmid Chowdhury who is standing in Clerkenwell. The former Central Foundation School pupil was one of the best-performing GCSE and A-level students.

Iolanda Costide, an architect standing in Caledonian ward, is one of only four Romanians standing in the country and Lorraine Constantinou, a grandmother and housing manager on the Elthorne Estate, is hoping to keep her seat in Hillrise.

The Conservatives have 32 candidates – 10 of whom are women.

Mags Joseph, 44, is an Islington born-and-bred candidate, and is standing in her first election, hoping to represent St Marys Ward.

A former civil servant who is now in advertising, she said she took pride in being “a Caribbean woman running for the Conservatives”.

Also on the Tory ticket is London Metropolitan University’s Anglican Chaplain, Father Craig Barber, running in Bunhill Ward.

Fr Barber, an avid campaigner on social justice, put his signature to a letter to The Times arguing that same-sex couples should be able to get married in church.

Islington Greens have 48 candidates standing, 25 of whom are women.

Among the party’s newest hopes is Ernestas Jegorovas who is running for a seat in Highbury West Ward.

He came to the borough as an asylum seeker as a teenager and now works as a Physics teacher. He is an active member of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and also coaches and referees amateur football.

Another candidate is Lilli Geissendorfer who works at the Almeida Theatre and ran the party’s cycle safety campaign “Londoners on Bikes” for the 2012 Mayoral election. She is standing in Canonbury.

A “Grand Hustings” will take place at Islington Town Hall on May 6 at 7pm.

Hosted by the Islington Society, the event is an opportunity for the public to hear from the four main parties.

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