Friday, February 16, 2024

The strange affair of the Brighton Labour councillors alleged to live in Leicester

There's an intriguing story in Rotten Boroughs in the current Private Eye about two Labour councillors from Brighton, Bharti Gajjar and Chandni Mistry, who have been expelled from the party amid questions about whether they live in the city at all. Both have roots in Leicester.

You can find more about the story on The Brighton Seagull:

When asking around the local party about councillors Gajjar and Mistry, words like 'mysterious' seem to come up. This rings some alarm bells, as most councillors tend to be active both in their party - having held local officer roles, or been an active campaigner - and in the community in other ways.

Like the Eye, the Seagull says the selection of Labour's candidates for the last Brighton and Hove council elections was taken over by the party's regional office:

Members were invited to apply to stand as councillors, but rather than applying to and being selected by the branches (which would allow them to choose in which ward they wanted to stand - and the ward's branch to choose whether they wanted them or not) they would be allocated to wards by the regional office.

This caused a great deal of frustration in the local party at the time, as members were understandably angry that their ability to vet the candidates, and exercise democratic control over the process, had been taken away. 

The regional office also took considerably longer to put together the slate of candidates than would normally be the case, with Labour's full slate only being announced in March 2023, a scant two months prior to the election. This made scrutiny - both internal and external - substantially more difficult.

According to the Seagull report:

As it was, according to Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Kemptown, they were only flagged when one of the councillors changed their listed address to one out of the city in September, after which questions were raised, the matter was escalated, and the whole affair came to light. 
Russell-Moyle told The Seagull that he's written to the police to request a fraud investigation be conducted.

Chandni Mistry has told the local press that she lives "in the heart of Brighton".

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