Labour’s verdict: it’s ok for our candidates to lie during an election

Miranda Grell, the Labour candidate who was convicted of smearing a political opponent as a paedophile, is back in the news.

She’s appealing the guilty verdict, and Labour supporters are mostly (though with a few exceptions) using the pending appeal to argue that, “oh, nothing’s been proved yet, she’s really a lovely person, all will come right on appeal”.

(Do you notice the irony here by the way? Labour is also the party that is oh so keen for people who haven’t been convicted of any offence to be locked up, given detention orders or have their DNA records kept by the state. So it’s a matter of (1) if you’ve been convicted, you’re really innocent, but (2) if you’ve not been convicted, you’re really guilty).

But – back to Grell. Now, let’s have a look at what Miranda Grell herself admitted in court during the case – and so isn’t in dispute and isn’t a matter of any appeal:

The thing is, even what she admitted to doing – telling voters that her LibDem rival, Barry Smith, was gay and had a teenage Thai boyfriend when she knew Smith’s partner was actually 39 and Malaysian – is bad enough to warrant the party distancing herself from her.

And what’s the Labour Party’s official reaction been? It’s been to fund her appeal and to leave her membership of the party intact. Yes, she’s been suspended from her job at City Hall, but that – on its own – isn’t exactly a ringing denunciation given what she has herself already admitted doing. Especially when you consider the terrible effect on Barry Smith:

In the months after his defeat he was abused, threatened and spat at in the street and on one occasion two men followed him home from a shop and accused him of having sex with children.

Other takes on this story are on Paul Walter’s and Andy Mayer’s blogs, along with Millennium Elephant.

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69 Comments

  • “when she knew Smith’s partner was actually 39”.

    She admitted nothing of the sort as those who were in court know.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 1:47pm

    Regardless of whether the appeal is successful or not, she did admit in court that she told voters that Barry Smith had a 19 year old Malaysian lover.
    That was a lie, and the only reason why she would bother to say such a thing would be to use homophobia to “discredit” her opponent.
    That she should use such tactics should make her unacceptable to the Labour party or anyone else.
    I am even more disappointed that Operation Black Vote (OBV) is also supporting her.
    Her Labour colleague bravely testified against her. I wonder what Miranda’s supporters think of him?
    It is reassuring that there are some decent people in Labour who have principles.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 1:51pm

    To Joanne @ 1. It is beside the point whether she knew how old he is. When she said he was 19 she clearly had no idea how old he is and just invented a figure to make her story look good.

  • Rubbish. I have read the transcript of the trial and Grell said during that trial that she thought Mr Smith’s partner was 19 because she had seen him with her own eyes and that is the age he looks. She said nothing about knowing or not not knowing about him being 39. Read the transcript before sounding off.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 2:04pm

    Joanne, I think it stretches credulity to mistake a 39 year old for a 19 year old.
    In any case, you appear to be supporting Miranda, and I am curious to know whether you think it is acceptable to go round telling people the details of someone’s private life when it has no relevance to whether that person can do the job or not?
    Regardless of whether she broke the law, don’t you think that what she admitted to saying was dispicable? Her Labour collegue appeared to.

  • “the jury seem to have believed she was telling people he was underage”.

    There was no jury. Again, another reason why uninformed people shouldn’t be sounding off without even knowing what actually went on in court.

    Read the transcript.

  • James Graham 8th Nov '07 - 2:11pm

    “Grell said during that trial that she thought Mr Smith’s partner was 19 because she had seen him with her own eyes and that is the age he looks.”

    I can’t believe someone is using that argument as a DEFENCE! Are you seriously saying it is okay to slander someone so long as you only concentrate on what they look like?!

    “I saw him with my own eyes and he looked a bit shifty, so what’s wrong with calling him a convicted burglar, guv?”

    Good grief!

  • How is it slander to say that someone who looks 19 could be 19?

  • I think I will wait to hear what comes out at the appeal, which is what I think everyone here should do too. Has it not occured to people that the reason Ms Grell’s appeal might be being backed is because some people think she’s innocent and September’s verdict was a mistake? Just a thought. I am not taking a veiw either way but I have read the transcript and the Black and White holier than thou comments on this website do not tally with the proceedings in the court. Until that time I will make no judgement on others perceptions of how she did or didn’t campaign. There will be plenty of time for that depending on the (final) outcome of the appeal

  • And to Bridget, I have just had a look again at my copy of the transcript.

    Ms Grell did not say anything about “Mr Smith claims to be married despite….”.

    Inaccuracy rules.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, read the transcript.

  • Joanne wrote: “Has it not occured to people that the reason Ms Grell’s appeal might be being backed is because some people think she’s innocent and September’s verdict was a mistake?”

    The reason Labour is backing Grell’s appeal is because the Labour leadership approves of what Grell did and approves of the use of homophobia to gain votes while pretending to stand for gay rights.

    “There is no morality in the class struggle” – V I Lenin.

    The class struggle might be long gone, but the methods are still alive and kicking.

    Anyway, why should Labour worry about one of their candidates smearing an opponent as a paedophile, when their leader told the lie of a century – that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction?

  • Hywel Morgan 8th Nov '07 - 3:17pm

    Joanne – Where is the transcript available?

  • Joanne – since when has a court conviction not been a good enough way to make up one’s mind on these matters? Suppose the appeal goes against you – what will be your defence then?
    Ms Grell’s actions were despicable. It doesn’t really matter if she thought the 39 year old man was 19 or not, she used homophobia in order to win an election. What else would her motivation of been for mentioning her opponent’s sexuality?
    She should be thoroughly ashamed of herself.
    As for defending her actions – you too should be ashamed. You are allowing party politics to frame your morality. If a Lib Dem launched the same despicable I would be the first to condemn them. Take a good hard look at yourself and then tell me that what Ms Grell did was acceptable.

  • Geoffrey, I happen to know that Operation Black Vote have not come out in support of Grell. They have reported it, and will be waiting to see what comes out of the Appeal. If it turns out to be some awful misunderstanding, as Joanna will have us believe, we can look forward to new campaigning guidelines from the Labour Party, that its okay to be sure to mention our opponents sexuality and give details of their partners age and gender when out canvassing.
    Labour’s ‘comrades’ have lost the plot!!

  • 17. Sorry, that was me, left out my name.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 3:59pm

    Meral, I would like to see Operation Black Vote (OBV) to be a successful organisation, so it pains me to identify them in this way.
    The way OBV reported the case was clearly sympathetic to Miranda. That does not mean to say that is the offical position of OBV as you rightly point out.
    However as I pointed out earlier, regardless of whether Miranda is found guilty or not, she has by own admission been spreading homophobic rumours to discredit her opponent. On those grounds alone, Labour should expell her, and OBV – assuming they are opposed to homophobia, and if racism is wrong then logically they should be – should be more objective in their reporting.

  • 15. Hywel, the transcript’s available from Waltham Forest Magistrate’s Court.

  • 21. Only if you believe that there’s something wrong with being in a relationship with a 19 year old.

  • And who exactly is an “average person living on an housing estate?” Are they all robots? Do they all hold the same views?

  • James Graham wrote: “It’s slander to say that a man in his late 40s is in a relationship with a 19 year old who isn’t in a relationship with a 19 year old.”

    It probably isn’t. But it will be if one, some or all of the persons who received publication knew Barry’s partner’s true age and nationality (they might think he was having an extra-relationship affair with a 19 year-old Thai, not his 39 year-old Malaysian partner). Grell’s allegation would amount to a true innuendo (see Tolley v Fry).

    An imputation of chastity against a woman is actionable per se, but not against a man. It is necessary to prove actual loss.

    There are ways for Grell to wriggle out of a civil action for slander, but she loses all credibility whatever the outcome.

    To put it bluntly – she is scum (the stuff that floats on ponds).

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 5:17pm

    Joanne, even though I identify you specifically, you do not answer the point I am putting to you.
    The only realistic motive that Miranda could possibly have in telling voters about the sexuality of her Lib Dem opponent would be to use homophobia to discredit him, and help her win the election.
    She said in court that this is what she said.
    That in itself is not breaking the law, but it is a dispicable way to behave.
    Don’t you agree?

  • No, I don’t agree. I’ve actually read the transcript of the trial and so know what she said in court and how that conversation occured and it wasn’t what’s been written on this website here today. Until you’ve read the transcript there’s no point us “debating” this. The transcript is there for everyone to read for themselves what was and wasn’t said in court.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 6:01pm

    Up until now you have been saying that the transcripts do not support what some people have said here about the age of the councillors gay lover. Are you now saying that the transcripts do not say that she told voters that the councillor is in a gay relationship as well?
    I am not referring to the transcripts because I am not in possession of them, and you won’t say where they can be found. But I have seen reports (ie Pink Paper) where she is quoted as saying that she told voters that her opponent is in a gay relationship with a 19 year old Malaysian.
    Are you formally saying that those reports are wrong? If so, how did this storey get out?

  • The transcript can be obtained by phoning Waltham Forest Magistrate’s Court and requesting a copy. It really isn’t that difficult.

  • 27. So everytime someone is found guilty and convicted after a trial, we have to go and read the transcript of the trial in order to determine whether that person is really guilty?
    Mr Smith, by all accounts a decent hard working former public servant, has had to move away from his home for fear of homophobic attacks.
    Seems to me she and her Labour cronies have no concept of justice or acceptable conduct. Her MP, Harry Cohen described her as an ‘exceptional young woman’, and Labour London Assembly Member, Jennette Arnold, told the court, that ‘without doubt she has an enthusiasm that is rare in public life’
    Thank God it is rare!!!

  • “So everytime someone is found guilty and convicted after a trial, we have to go and read the transcript of the trial in order to determine whether that person is really guilty?”

    Well if a person is appealing a decision it would be wise to obtain the full facts before sounding off, yes.

  • Geoffrey Payne 8th Nov '07 - 6:19pm

    Joanne, you didn’t answer this point;
    “Are you now saying that the transcripts do not say that she told voters that the councillor is in a gay relationship as well?”

  • Why don’t you read the transcript yourself?

  • Ross Chmiel 8th Nov '07 - 6:32pm

    Joanne – I see, so when your argument is defeated you give up and and start repeating yourself. Come on!! Your the one who has been defending a bigot what have you got to say for yourself?

  • Geoffrey and others: Miranda ‘Joanne’ Grell, clearly has no concept of the justice system. Presumably her message is that if we all go and read the transcripts, we’ll see for ourselves that she not guilty. Its pathetic.

  • Ross Chmiel 8th Nov '07 - 6:43pm

    If Grell’s arguments are as confused as her alter-ego Joanne’s are I think she will quite rightly lose the appeal as well.

  • Dear oh dear. The point I am trying to make is that people who can’t actually be bothered to inform themselves of the facts before sprouting off need to be challenged. Whatever my views of this case I, at least, have bothered to read through the transcript. That’s why I am planning to reserve judgement on Ms Grell until her appeal is over and the courts have decided once and for all. Others here would be wise to do the same.

  • And to nos 35 and 36: Miranda Grell seems to have a lot of support judging by her appeal campaign website. It is sad that you feel that anyone who steps in to give her the benefit of the doubt should be attacked.

  • Ross Chmiel 8th Nov '07 - 6:55pm

    Bigots deserve to be attacked at every oppertunity

  • We’ll see.

  • 39: And yes, I agree.

  • 39 & 41 And Miranda Grell quite clearly is one.

  • Like I say, we’ll see.

  • No, are you?

  • Ian Roebuck 8th Nov '07 - 9:22pm

    Joanne

    Are you telling me that Waltham Forest Magistrates Court can provide an official verbatim note of the evidence given in a trial held in that court?

    Because, having sat as a magistrate in a variety of courts over the last 31 years, I can assure you it would be unique in my experience if it could.

  • Justin Hinchcliffe 8th Nov '07 - 9:35pm

    Why, as others have asked, did she feel it necessary to mention her opponent’s sexuality at all?

    Like Geoffrey Payne (2nd comment), I am usually sympathetic to OBV and other such organisations. I abhor racism. It is, though, distressing to see so many black organisations and publications, esp. The Voice and New Nation, supporting Grell (and others accused of homophobia) based on the colour of her skin. Peter Tatchell was vilified and threatened with death when he ran his campaign to stop murder music (again, he was ridiculed and verbally abused by the two newspapers). So, what’s my point? ‘liberals’ too often think it’s OK for one minority group to behave disgracefully towards others. Equality has to be for all and we need to clamp down on people who feel that they are “untouchable”.

  • Ross Chmiel 8th Nov '07 - 10:17pm

    46) Well done, you’ve caught “Joanne” in a lie. Looks like Ms Grell isn’t the only liar in the Labour Party.

  • Daniel Bowen 9th Nov '07 - 12:05am

    This ‘Joanne’ clearly exhibits all the morals of the modern Labour Party. ‘Nuff said.

  • Daniel Bowen 9th Nov '07 - 12:07am

    Joanne, is it the same ‘moral compass’ as using BNP slogans?

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 9th Nov '07 - 12:37am

    Magistrates’ Courts are not tape recorded, transcripts are note made and those Courts that do make recordings (the Crown and Couny court for example) charge a considerable fee for transcripts.

  • Geoffrey Payne 9th Nov '07 - 8:45am

    Meral 35, Joanne quotes the transcript when she thinks it suits her case. When she is asked a question about quotations from the media that do not suit her case, she ignores the question and just says “read the transcript”.
    She is being deliberately evasive, and the obvious conclusion is that she cannot defend the behavior of Miranda.
    There is another point as well.
    To spread a rumour that someone is a paedophile is legally wrong. To spread a rumour that someone is gay may not be legally wrong, but is morally wrong.
    Now I have no idea whether she broke the law. The appeal will decide that.
    But Joanne has not denied, and the media have reported that Miranda admitted to spreading a rumour that her Lib Dem opponent is gay. That is morally wrong, whatever the appeal decides, but Joanne will not comment on that, not even in the abstract.
    Which just goes to further show how vacuous her position is.

  • Geoff – you are so right!
    I would to take this opportunity to praise Barry Smith for not allowing this bigot to get away with her disgusting actions. He has suffered greatly at the hands of this disgraceful person and the easy thing to do would have been hide away and try to forget about it. His courageous stand against Ms Grell’s actions is an example to every victim of bigotry and oppression. Well done Cllr. Smith!!

  • 38. ‘Joanne (McCartney?) claims that there seems ot be a lot of support for MG on her ‘Justice for Leyton’ website. Been told today by 2 of the names on the list, that their names were put on the website without their permission…How many more I wonder?

  • Hywel Morgan 9th Nov '07 - 9:58pm

    My understanding based on
    1) Experience (and supported by the more extensive experience Ian and Anthony)
    2) The CJS website http://tinyurl.com/2v2859
    3) A paper from Inner Temple Library http://tinyurl.com/2qpx4x

    All which are pretty authoritative IMO and suggest no transcript is taken.

    It’s possible some pilot scheme doing this is operating in Waltham Forest I suppose. Why don’t you scan the relevant pages in and post them somewhere. Or are we operating to the Chris Paul “It’s up to you to prove my allegations false” standard of proof here 🙂

  • Ross Chmiel 27th Nov '07 - 1:21pm

    This is from today’s Independent:

    Having taken flak for bankrolling the legal appeal of Miranda Grell, the “rising star” black Labour councillor convicted of making false paedophilia slurs against a gay rival, party chiefs have abruptly washed their hands at the 11th hour.

    With the appeal by Grell, 29, due to be heard in court today, Labour told Pandora yesterday that the party was backing her case to the tune of £30,000 – only to perform an embarrassing volte-face 41 minutes later.

    “Following legal advice in the last few days, the Labour Party today withdrew its support for Miranda Grell’s appeal,” said a flustered spokeswoman, admitting that Grell had benefited from party dosh “up until this point”.

    Says Peter Tatchell: “Labour is tough on racism and weak on homophobia.”

    Glad to see that even the Labour Party is fed up defending this odious bigot!

  • That’s pathetic, Chris Paul.

    Miranda Grell is a lying homophobic bigot. No more, no less.

  • “Miranda Grell is a lying homophobic bigot. No more, no less”.

    We’ll see.

  • passing tory 27th Nov '07 - 10:21pm

    OK, Chris, how much faith do you have in Ms Grell’s position? What forfeit are you willing to pay if her appeal fails?

    [although, to be fair, I have been on the receiving end of a fair few Lib Dem dirty tricks over the years so I feel there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in the Lib Dem complaints here]

  • passing tory 28th Nov '07 - 11:41am

    Where’s your sense of fun, Chris. A naked run down Oxford St maybe? Otherwise it gives the impression that you are all hot air and no substance 🙂

    I think we all hope that justice will prevail although we anticipate that this will come from a different result.

  • Just heard, Grell has lost her appeal. Her appeal hinged on the fact hunged on the fact that there was ‘a plot to discredit her’ (by the Lib Dems) It took the Judge and his colleagues 20 mins to dismiss this. She will have to pay all costs and there will be a by election. She is the fist person to be convicted under the 1983 Act.
    I hope this send out a strong signal to her ‘friends’ and Labour apologists, that they cannot get away with homophobic campaigning.

  • passing tory 30th Nov '07 - 10:21pm

    Thank goodness justice was done in the end, eh Chris.

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