Miranda GrellI was shocked to hear today that a good friend of mine, Miranda Grell, has been charged with alleged misconduct by candidates from an opposing political party in the ward she fought – and won for Labour – in Waltham Forest at the 2006 local elections. Miranda refutes the allegations on her blog here. Worse than that, Lib Dem blogger Andy Mayer, a Southwark Councillor I have known for years, follows up the matter on his blog here. So, with 2 people from my ‘Friends’ blogroll disagreeing about a serious matter, what should my reaction be?

First of all, let’s put Andy’s facts straight. Miranda did overturn a Lib Dem majority in her ward, but the turnout in the previous elections there was 32%. That was boosted to 38% in 2006. So the implication from Andy’s post that her victory was unexpected is wide of the mark. The Lib Dem vote slipped, and the votes for all Labour candidates increased. Leyton ward is also the place where Miranda lives, and has lived all her life. Plus she was the only Labour candidate to be returned in the ward, alongside 2 Lib Dems. Anyone who has ever met Miranda – especially since she became a councillor – cannot avoid being struck by the determination and energy she puts into her work for the people of that ward, and her overall drive and determination. I’ve known Miranda since 2002 and know here level of commitment and determination; I went out campaigning with her in Leyton, and designed the website of her campaign too.

While Miranda’s statement does not say so explicitly, I think we can reasonably deduce that the defeated Lib Dem candidate would be the one that is raising the complaint. Why are they complaining now? Well, they have 1 year after the election to raise an issue according to the act. Sour grapes, 11 months on..? If this matter was so serious, why raise it now?

In short, there is no person I know in the Labour Party that I would trust more to do a good job for her constituents, and to be an honest and upstanding Councillor than Miranda. As parties struggle to attract good young people to be councillors, she is very much the sort of person we should be having as a councillor. Yes, I know it might be fun sometimes to score party political points, but those people coming up with these allegations against Miranda better understand what they are up against – she’s hard working, smart, intelligent, and cares deeply about the area she comes from. If the Lib Dems had been like that in 2006 they might not have been defeated, and we would not have these measly allegations now.

[Note: turnout figures amended in light of comments below]

26 Comments

  1. I`m afraid that until Ms Grell comes up with solid evidence that she was the victim of some form of set-up, then I shall have to continue to take the same view as Andy Meyer. Simply saying “I am innocent” over and over again is simply not good enough without some form of proof, which, so far, has been lacking, as far as I am aware.

  2. Dear Andy, it is my interntion that you will learn the truth in time along with everyone else. Until that point, you’ll just have to be as patient as I have been for 18 long months. Kindest regards. Miranda

  3. Andy Mayer

    In nearly all cases of genuine injustice, following a conviction or failed appeal, the defence, or advocates for the defence make their case in public, in order to highlight what was unsound about the case against them, and build public support for a retrial or appeal.

    Miranda, you have not done this.

    Your public statements since conviction have amounted to little more than restating that you believe yourself to be innocent and are taking unspecified actions to clear your name. That and highlighting the personal cost you have suffered as a result of losing your jobs and party, which while grim says nothing about whether you were wrongly convicted or not.

    Your Justice for Leyton Ward website contains no specific details as to what you believe was unsound about your conviction… or any credible explanation as to why you believe you can’t talk about it. There is certainly no prejudicial legal reason, only the risk that if you claim a witness lied about you, they might sue you successfully for defamation.

    And that I think is why you are silent.

    My understanding of your case is that several witnesses, who did not have obvious motivations to see you removed from office, and certainly not to extreme extent that they would be willing to risk their own criminal convictions by pejuring themselves, testified against you.

    One witness was one of your own running mates. The victim did not re-run in the resulting by-election and moved out of the area, so cannot be accused of self-interest. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are in coalition in Waltham Forest so your removal and replacement with another Liberal Democrat has made no substantial political difference to the running of the Council, other than to you personally. Political conspiracy seems implausible.

    And I’ve heard no good reason at all as to why local residents would want to get involved in this case against you, other than horror at what you said.

    So state your case… explain to us all a plausible scenario where you were the victim of a conspiracy involving your opponent, members of your own party, and local residents. A conspiracy so devious that it fooled the Police, the CPS, and then judiciary… twice…

    Who lied about you, and how were so many people with no reason to wish you ill, fooled by it?

    Either that or apologise and get on with your life. If nothing else you are in a very strong position to help stop the use hate-campaign tactics in future by educating others about what led to your hubris.

    I hope, even if in denial, you do at least agree that this kind of campaigning needs to be driven out of politics.

  4. I maintain my innocence and I continue to fight to clear my name. Kindest regards. Miranda Grell

  5. And again, “Fran” aka Cllr Clyde Loakes can’t actually find the guts to write nastiness about me under his own name. I pity Clyde Loakes. He has so much potential before he was corrupted by his position and the financial rewards it brought him. I hope no one close to him has to suffer because of his actions. Miranda

  6. Sorry Fran, but that’s rubbish. If you reckon the efforts by one Councillor to clear her name is making a change to how an entire ward approaches gay people then you’re deluding yourself that local Councillors (and indeed local campaigns) have a lot more effect than is actually the case.

  7. I live in the Leyton ward and have followed this case with interest,

    What keeps haunting me is her admission, that she told people her opponent had a partner much younger than himself, 14, 19, whatever you believe the only purpose of this was to inform people he was gay and had a younger partner.

    Now it’s November and the poster are going up, ‘Justice for Leyton ward’, I walked down Leyton high street at the weekend, Justice for who?
    Justice for Miranda Grell, because she claimed her opponent had a 19 year old partner as opposed to a 14 year old one.
    Justice for Labour, to continue the tit-for-tat games with the Lib Dems,
    Justice for her Leyton, because it can’t be a crime to use sexuality against someone,
    Justice for the good proper decent people of Leyton who will not tolerate deviants living in there ward.

    Leyton Ward and Miranda Grells Poster campaign reaffirms the message that Leyton ward is a no go area for gay people. If you think that too harsh than feel free to take a walk down the street yourself. I know I can’t anymore.

  8. Chris Duran

    Very well, it appears I’ve been foolish as it was actually her own web-site I saw this claim on. I just googled her name and read all the stuff that came up. She is mistaken none the less.

    But I still think that she is in this situation partly because of her success in being so much more popular than the other two Labour candidates.

    Anyway, me being foolish and her being mistaken doesn’t alter the logic of what I say.

    1. The result does not suggest anything strange happened, results in Waltham Forest were all over the place but there were other similar swings in other wards.

    2. If the result had been the result of a smear campaign against a particular candidate it would result in his vote being substantially less than his colleagues. This was not the case and the gap was much bigger in other wards.

    3. She didn’t need to do anything so stupid to become a Councillor, she could have been a candidate in an easier ward.

    Anyway she certainly doesn’t need me to protect her reputation, but the allegations against her just don’t seem logical. feel

  9. “For example I have seen a false claim on another web-site that this seat had been Liberal for 25 years, actually there have been two other Labour Councillors in this ward in that time.”

    Chris would that be the following false claim:

    “Prior to May 2006, the Liberals had held all three seats in Leyton ward for twenty-five long years………”

    It comes originally from this webpage on Cllr Miranda Grell’s website:

    http://www.mirandagrell.com/?page_id=5

    Are you trying to help her reputation or bury it?

    Best,

    Andy

  10. Chris Duran

    However, those of us who live in the borough and have met Ms Grell are surely free to say that we find the claims inconsistent with our experience.

    Part of the case against Ms Grell appears to be down to this being such a shock result. An impression certain people have been doing their best to foster.

    For example I have seen a false claim on another web-site that this seat had been Liberal for 25 years, actually there have been two other Labour Councillors in this ward in that time.

    If the result had been down to a smear campaign against one Liberal candidate his result would have been well below that of the other Liberals, but he was only about 30 votes behind his nearest colleague.

    I live in the ward next to Leyton and the third Liberal also failed to get elected, but she was much further behind her colleagues than Councillor Smith.

    In any case, had Ms Grell didn’t need to smear anyone to become a Councillor, she just had to accept an easier seat to win.

  11. It’s unlikely that Miranda would have been sent on the national Council Leadership course if she was no good at being a Councillor.

    Unfortunately, for her and Labour, that’s not what she’s on trial for, it’s how she got to be a Councillor in the first place and whether she breached election law.

    A complaint was submittted and investigated by the Police who then passed the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS rarely takes a case to court without evidence, although they do make mistakes.

    So at this stage all we know is she is being prosecuted by the CPS, not whether she is guilty or innocent.

  12. elsa parisdormer

    Miranda is a very efficient and competent person. As a professional working with the general public I cannot envisage miranda making the comments for whic h she has been expelled, Miranda visited us on council matters on two occasions, her only concern was to get the information she needed to report back to her colleagues in the labour Party. My husband and I were
    impressed with the way she conducted herself. thanks to Miranda we were able to get the work done which was outstanding for over three years and she was not ellected yet. Miranda has made a great change to the council and to the people of Leyton. I trust thst she would be vindicated so that she can get back to her role of being a Cllr.

  13. elsa parisdormer

    Miranda is a very efficient and competent person. as a person qualified to work in the interest of the general public i cannot envisage Miranda making the comments for which she has been expelled. Miranda visited our house on council matters on two occasions her only concern was to get the information she needed to report back to her colleagues in the labour party. Thanks to Miranda we were able to get the work which was outstanding for over three years done and she was not even a counsellor then. Miranda has made a great change to the Council and the people of Leyton . i trust that she would be vindicated soon so that she can get back to her role as a Cllr.

  14. Chris Duran

    I don’t actually know what the actual evidence is but the allegations appear implausible for two reasons.

    Firstly because Her victory was more to do with her being well ahead of the other two Labour candidates rather than the third Liberal doing so much worse than his colleagues.

    In any case neither the swing nor the division between the parties three candidates was massively out of line with other results in our borough. The swing to Labour in Cann Hall was 11% compared to 12% in Leyton.

    Secondly I met Miranda before the election and she told me that the Labour Party wanted her to stand in a more winnable seat. She, however wanted to try and represent her own ward. She struck me as a woman of principle, not someone desperate to get elected at all costs.

  15. No idea – haven’t been following the story for the last couple of days…

  16. Mark Senior

    Has Miranda been suspended from the Labour group on the Council ? She is no longer listed amongst the Labour councillors ?

  17. Mark Senior

    It would appear that the magistrates court have decided there is a case to answer and have referred it upwards . I hope all candidates on May 3rd are careful of what they say in leaflets and verbally about their opponents as I can see this particular section of the law being used rather more in the future .

  18. Miranda might wish to consider updating her site… The comment “The turn out in my ward doubled last May.” appears… here for example

    http://www.mirandagrell.com/?p=219

    It’d also be fair to say that the turnout ambling up by 6% as a hotly contested target seat, and coming down between 1998-2002 when not seriously contested isn’t all that remarkable.

  19. Mark Senior

    The turnout figures can be found by using the wayback Internet archive machine and accessing the council website as it was in 2002 . Results are there for 1994 – turnout 48.7% 1998 42.6% and 2002 32.5%

  20. OK, thanks for the info. I’m not sure it will necessarily work, but try this direct link.

    I’ll update the post.

  21. Those figures are just nonsense the turnout in Leyton ward in 2002 was 32.5 percent and 1998 was 43%.

  22. Sorry, but I’m not willing to just accept the stats that someone provides in a comment without a reference to the source. If that’s true I stand to be corrected…

    In essence the main base of my entry is true – Miranda won on the basis of hard work as the ward was not even marginal for the Lib Dems before.

  23. Mark Senior

    On a technical point the charges have not been brought by a defeated political opponent but by the police/CPS .
    What is of the greatest importance to all candidates . potential candidates and people involved in political campaigns is that these alleged comments would normally be considered subject to the laws of libel/slander . To use a section of the Represention Of The Peoples act which most would not even have heard of will create a precedent which may well force many to reconsider the way in which they make comments on political opponents in future campaigns .

  24. Mark Senior

    I think you will find that the complaints were laid many months ago and the delay was in the police investigation – a bit like Cash for honours really in the time it takes . There are 4 specific allegations which are the subject of charges and the court will decide but it may be an important testcase as to how far it is wise to go in a closely contested election with comments on opposing candidates without overstepping the bnoundaries of the law .

  25. Jon,

    I believe the issue is how Ms. Grell campaigned, not whether the campaign was effective.

    Big swings are always a ‘surprise’, although energetic highly negative campaigns overturning incumbent majorities is less unusual. It is though unusual for such matters to go to court.

    In answer to your question above I believe the 11-month delay is simply down to the length of time the Police took to investigate the matter and decide to proceed to prosecution.

    Best,

    Andy

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