A protest is being held over Hackney Labour Party’s refusal to share its selection process following resurfaced sexual harassment and bullying allegations against a by-election candidate.
The Women’s Equality Party (WEP) sent a letter demanding transparency on November 22 and say they have received no response whatsoever.
Campaigners say this is ‘not just the Labour Party’s problem’ and that all parties need to take harassment claims more seriously when choosing who to represent them.
WEP by-election candidate Tabitha Morton told Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m not particularly interested in this particular allegation I’m interested in how candidates are selected.
‘You’re representing a party, you’re representing an electorate so it should be taken really seriously.’
Labour’s candidate for the Clissold ward Kofo David unsuccessfully sued a former colleague for libel in 2017 after she alleged that he ‘made a pass’ and then bullied and harassed her after his advances were rejected.
The case was not based on the truth of the claims, but whether the then East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) governor Zara Hosany’s complaints were made maliciously or honestly, ‘believing that they were true and fair’.
After council candidates were announced last month, the claims, which Mr David denies, hit local papers in Hackney.
Having read the news the WEP wrote to the east London borough’s Labour branch demanding answers.
They asked them to set out how they ‘ensure that all allegations of violence and harassment by prospective candidates are investigated, and concluded before they are selected’.
After getting radio silence a ‘rally to end violence against women an girls’ at Clissold Park has been organised by campaigners starting midday tomorrow.
When asked about Labour blanking them, Ms Morton said: ‘I’m not particularly surprised because when the article came out in the local paper the Labour party’s initial reaction was to pivot to areas that they cared about but not address violence against women and girls.’
She said the WEP does not make its candidate selection process public but says they could ‘publish it tomorrow’ if asked.
The CEO of cross-party political movement More United underwent a two hour interview when she applied as a candidate for the by-election, which runs on the same day as the December 12 General Election.
She said the WEP combed through her social media and asked plenty of unexpected questions about her past.
Ms Morton, 42, added: ‘I felt really good as a candidate, I knew that I was not going to bring the party into disrepute or bring feminism into disrepute.’
She accepts that we ‘all have history’ but says the party needs to make clear decisions before choosing candidates.
The council hopeful added: ‘It’s not just the Labour party’s problem. All political parties need to take violence against women and girls seriously.
‘Will they actually represent their candidates that they’re standing for?
‘We have seen this across the General Election, for example we have seen candidates for the Conservative for example stand then have to stand back down because things come up about them being a rape apologist.
‘I have always stood on a platform to end violence against Women and Girls because I think it’s the single most important thing in our communities.
‘One in five kids grows up in a household where they see violence. I think that we need to really support services to help women rehabilitate with their children.
‘We have been told constantly that this election is about Brexit. I think the subjects like ending violence are things that are being left behind. We’ve got to address those underlying problems.
When asked about the claims about Mr David a Labour Party spokesman told Hackney Citizen: ‘We are getting on with the serious business of fighting an election on the main issues that matter to the people in the area – keeping Clissold green, supporting local business, fair funding for schools and working to reduce anti-social behaviour and knife crime.’
The case heard by judge Moloney QC, was told how Mr David grabbed Ms Hosany by the waist, pulled her towards him and whispered in her ear that he wanted ‘to be more than friends’.
The community activist denied this and said he was merely touching her back to offer his umbrella.
A dispute over a particular role of Ms Honsay’s in the ELFT was said to arise over the next few days, which she said was prompted by her rejecting Mr David’s advances.
The court heard how he ‘persistently insulted and intimidated her, face-to,face, at meetings and by email to such an extent that she suffered serious physical and emotional stress.’
On the day he sent a letter before suing his colleague, Mr David allegedly walked past several empty chairs to the end of a room, removed a piece of paper on a seat and sat next to Ms Honsay.
This was despite a voluntary agreement to restrict contact between the pair during meetings.
Afterwards he is alleged to have followed her into another room, which she then left.
Mr David said he had an eyesight problem and didn’t realise he had sat next to Ms Honsay and that he went into the other room to sign an attendance book.
The Labour party did not respond to questions about how much consideration the libel case was made for David’s selection.
Metro.co.uk is awaiting further comment from the Hackney Labour Party.