Cllr Carol Shaw: Police investigating false rumours that Brent Council candidate had died hours before election
PUBLISHED: 16:59 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 03 May 2018
Brent's chief exec has issued a stern warning to election candidates after false rumours began circulating that a veteran councillor had died.
Police are now investigating a possible breach of the Representation of the People Act 1983 over the allegations, which came hours before Brent heads to the polls tomorrow morning.
Brent Council chief Carolyn Downs, who is the returning officer at tomorrow’s election, was forced to defend Brondesbury Park’s Carol Shaw.
In an astonishing e-mail seen by the Brent & Kilburn Times, Ms Downs said she was made aware of the rumours this morning. She said: “It was alleged that Carol Shaw had passed away. It has since been confirmed to me that Carol is alive.
“I cannot stress to you enough the serious nature of spreading such rumours.”
She added: “Under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, making a false statement about a candidate is an illegal practice.
“This is even more distasteful given the sad death of Lesley Jones, a candidate in Willesden Green, earlier this week.” Ms Jones, a former mayor, was 77. Polls in Willesden Green will not go ahead tomorrow, withi a by-election set to be called in due course.
“Please ensure that all candidates are made aware immediately of the gravity of spreading such rumours,” concluded Ms Downs.
Cllr Shaw has served Brent for 28 years.
In 2003, she made a shock defection to the Lib Dems only to rejoin the Conservative Party in 2013.
Cllr John Warren, Brent Conservative leader and Cllr Shaw’s Brondesbury colleague, said: “Today at around 11am I received a phone call from the chief executive of Brent who stated that she had been told that Carol was dead, and was it true?
“She said she had been told by the Labour office. I told her to the best of my knowledge this was untrue, but I would check it out.
“I then phoned Carol and we had a general conversation. I then phoned the CEO back and told her that Carol was certainly not dead.
“The timing of this rumour is obviously suspicious, with an election tomorrow. How many residents will hear and believe it?
“I know that this matter is now under police investigation.”
He added he was “optimistic” about Cllr Shaw’s return to politics, adding: “Carol will be back – it will just take a bit of time.”