Tuesday, 10 April 2012

criminal defamation

Was suggests that Reading Labour may have committed this offence under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, because Azam Janjua is a candidate in an election which is imminent, and a Labour candidate (Tony Jones) has published on his website an extract from a letter from the Labour agent in Reading, David Absolom, which states that Azam Janjua has committed an offence of (unspecified) misconduct.  The actual wording is "disowned by the Labour Group following allegations of misconduct".  You will find here the text of a public statement, made in Reading's council chamber in March 2008 by the then leader of the council, David Sutton, in answer to a question from Marian Livingston, now herself a Labour councillor.  Sutton said in that statement that he was making it after discovering that Azam Janjua had joined the Conservatives and been selected by them to stand in Church ward, the ward he had previously represented for Labour until he stood down in 2007, citing family reasons.  He also said that the allegation of misconduct was made in "late 2006".  There is no evidence that the police were ever involved, or that any allegation was ever substantiated.  To this day no evidence has been produced in support of any allegation against Azam Janjua.  A letter from then MP for Reading West Martin Salter, in whose office the alleged incident allegedly took place, was referred to at this time but has never been produced.  Sutton did not say why no public statement was made for well over a year, other than to refer to his own personal "outrage" at Azam Janjua's selection for the Conservatives.  He offered no information about the position of Azam Janjua in the Labour Group from "late 2006" until he stood down from the council before the elections in May 2007.  Azam Janjua remained a Labour councillor until he left the council in 2007.  So at least up to May 2007 he had not been in any way "disowned" - and in March 2008 he was neither a councillor nor a member of the Labour Party, so the question of "disowning" does not arise.  Therefore, to help Was with the sequence of events, it clearly was (1) allegations of misconduct (2) resignation from council (3) joining the Conservative Party (4) selection as candidate for Church ward for the Conservatives (5) public statement by David Sutton.

Was has this to say:
(either)
1) Something did happen and Labour covered up a criminal act in their offices by someone who was then a member.
2) They required something to smear Cllr Janjua with after his defection and cobbled together a bogus story which explains why they never went to the police.
In the absence of any report to the police and the failure to provide even a shred of evidence to back up their accusation, we are left with only the one conclusion that this is a clear attempt to defame an election candidate which is contrary to section 106 of the Representation of the People's Act 1983.


On serious reflection I think Was is right.  It is for Reading Labour to substantiate or withdraw the allegation they have caused to be published on Tony Jones' website (and which has subsequently been published elsewhere), and if they do not do this it is for the Reading East Conservative Associatin or its Agent to initiate an action under the Act.

Oh and Reading Labour could withdraw their racist dog-whistle leaflet while they're about it.  It's been reproduced on large numbers of national political websites and is "most-read" on many of them.  Not for good reasons, boys.  Say sorry and move on.

6 comments:

Isobel Ballsdon said...

Agreed.

Also Labour's logic doesn't stack up from another angle:

If their allegation had any basis in truth, they could and should have taken away his taxi licence immediately after the alleged incident. They didn't. Why?

Anonymous said...

Isobel - I don't believe the Reading Labour group issue or revoke Taxi licenses, but I could be wrong ;-p

Jane Griffiths said...

You are wrong - the Licensing Committee does this, and its members are appointed by the controlling group. Any councillor who is aware of anything which could indicate that a taxi driver is not a fit and proper person to convey members of the public has a duty to inform the committee, which in its turn has a duty to make a decision on the basis of the evidence before it. They may choose, or not, to interview the driver concerned. This did not happen. So if these allegations are anything other than a fabrication, the then leader of the council, the current leader (who we know was aware and involved in the situation) and possibly others were in breach of their duty as councillors and guilty of placing the public at risk.

Anonymous said...

Isobel, some types of crime have very low reporting rates. This may be for a variety of reasons, for example perhaps the victim does not wish to go through the difficult process of recounting a traumatic experience to police and subsequently in court. Without the victim's cooperation, often there is no evidence. No evidence means no action of any serious kind can be taken against the perpetrator unless he or she admits the crime. This includes revocation of a taxi licence - a serious sanction for a taxi driver.
I stress I don't know the nature of the allegations talked about in this instance, I'm talking in the abstract.
Crimes where the victims are women and the perpetrators are men have particularly low rates of reporting. In your role as a councillor you may be asked to support a female victim of crime who does not wish to report it to the police for the reason I mentioned above. I hope you are able to show sympathy and compassion.

Jane Griffiths said...

Anonymous 1808 if Cllr Sutton was able to stand up in the council chamber, under qualified privilege, and say that Azam Janjua should not be around women, and report that he had told the Chief Executive this once he knew that Azam Janjua was intending to stand for the council again, he had a duty to report that to the licensing authority. And even if he did not do that, the fact that he had made the statement provided evidence that the licensing committee was bound to take into account. Interviewing the alleged victim does not come into it. If the alleged victim did not want it reported, then why did Cllr Sutton, more than a year after the alleged incident, make a public statement about it?

Anonymous said...

Any response from Isobel ....no ?
....

Sutton commenting about an individual under qualified privilege is different from accusing that individual of a specific offence at a specific time and date. Obviously.

You may say that X shouldn't be around women. X might litigate in response or X might not for whatever reason. Perhaps because of privilege, perhaps if X wasn't confident that he would win.