Labour Party apologises for distributing defamatory leaflets about Conservative rival in Kenton
PUBLISHED: 12:17 02 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:24 02 March 2015
Brent Labour Party has been accused of carrying out a smear campaign against a rival after they distributed defamatory leaflets about the Tory candidate in the Kenton by-election.
The party have been forced to apologise after they sent out literature to homes across the ward claiming Michael Maurice was against his own party.
The handouts, which Mr Maurice claims was sent out at the same time as postal votes, said: “Even the Conservative candidate for the Kenton by-election has said he will not be voting conservative.”
It included a scanned feedback form claimed to be completed by Mr Maurice where he attacks his party for failing to control immigration.
After being alerted to the leaflets, Mr Maurice employed a handwriting expert who proved the form was not filled out by him.
Mr Maurice has called in the police and alerted his solicitor to the literature.
He told the Times: “The leaflet has fraudulently used my signature, my name, libelled me and offended me greatly as what it says might imply that I’m racist which I’m not.”
Last week, the Labour Party issued Mr Maurice an apology with a statement from the Labour candidate Vincent Lo saying he was “deeply sorry to Mr Maurice for any harm he has suffered as a result of our mistake.”
Mr Maurice said: “It’s good but I don’t think the apology goes far enough.
“The postal votes, which are quite crucial, have already gone out. It is a horrific slur on my character. It is totally unwarranted, there’s no proof whatsoever which they now admit but they won’t tell us where their original leaflet came from.
“It’s designed to smear me.”
Cllr Reg Colwill, who represents Kenton and is acting as Mr Maurice’s agent said the leaflet was in breach of electoral rules.
He said: “I think it’s dirty and degrading and bringing politics down in to the gutter.
“We can take them to court for libel.
“They should also issue an apology to the public by putting leaflets through people’s doors which we will deliver.”
He warned: “If we lose the by-election by a few votes we could go for a re-election. They’ve never won Kenton before, they’ve got near to winning it. So if they win this time we’ll put it down to the leaflet they sent out. People have called us, it has sunk in.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “We have apologised for inaccurately attributing a quote to Michael Maurice.
“We believed the information we were given was credible, but now accept Michael Maurice’s statement that he did not make the statement in question.”
The by-election, which will take place on Thursday, has been called following the sudden death of Cllr Bhiku Patel last month.