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Hampstead and Kilburn Labour chair resigns after accusing group of ‘intimidation and exclusion’

PUBLISHED: 10:32 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:09 23 November 2018

Reverand Leao Neto. Picture: Swaminarayan Sanstha Temple

Reverand Leao Neto. Picture: Swaminarayan Sanstha Temple

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Allegations of bullying in Hampstead and Kilburn’s Labour branch have surfaced with the resignation of its chair, who is also a minister at a Harlesden church.

Leao Neto quit as chair of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) on Monday, claiming there was a “wider culture of aggressive intimidation and exclusion”.

In an email sent to members, Rev Neto said he had been shouted at in the street, statements had been sent out on his behalf without his agreement, and he has been called “anti-women”. He also alleged Labour members had visited him at home, and made “racist remarks”.

When contacted by the Ham&High, Rev Leto declined to expand on his allegations.

He added: “The CLP needs to ask itself why in the space of a year its chair, its secretary and its women’s officer have all resigned.”

A senior Camden Labour source said the incident showed the “poisonous atmosphere” in the group and called for it to be suspended.

“It is different factions at play,” they said. And they claimed: “The issue is the left do things in a very aggressive way but if you challenge them they are then victims.

“It should be suspended, and these events should be looked into.”

Rev Neto had been chair since March, and is also a minister at Harlesden Methodist Church.

The Ham&High has seen leaked emails between the members of the CLP’s executive committee apparently trying to stop Dr Neto’s resignation letter being sent to the wider membership for “GDPR reasons”.

A member of the executive committee wrote in one: “It’s a breach of GDPR/Labour Party Data Privacy...to email out his letter.

“We should not be using members’ data and emails to send them a literature of this nature.”

Meanwhile another said his resignation letter shouldn’t be sent out because it “appears to be designed to cause maximum damage to the CLP”.

In the end, Rev Neto sent the message to ward chairs instead – a level down from the CLP’s executive committee – asking them to distribute it to local members. It is believed some did and some didn’t.

Speaking to this newspaper, Rev Neto said: “It is bigger than me – it’s about a culture in the party. We need to change it.

“We’re in power in Brent and Camden and still can’t work together. What is going on?”

He confirmed that he hadn’t complained to the national party about the issues.

Both Hampstead and Kilburn and Holborn and St Pancras CLPs are set to vote on opening up voting at their meetings to all members who attend.

Currently, only delegates nominated by ward branches can vote at meetings, which any Labour member can already attend.

A spokesperson for Hampstead and Kilburn CLP declined to comment.

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