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Labour Candidate "Removed" From Endorsement List Before Key Meeting

Darren Rodwell in 2019 (Credit: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Live News)

2 min read

Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham council, has been removed from Labour's endorsement list as its candidate for Barking, PoliticsHome understands.

Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, will meet on Tuesday at noon to endorse the list of selected candidates. If Rodwell is deselected as expected, according to reports, a panel of NEC members will pick a new candidate for the seat.

Peter Mason, the Ealing council leader who was not selected by Labour for the Ealing Southall seat as had been expected, is among those tipped to replace Rodwell if he is removed by the NEC as the candidate.

Whoever is selected by the party to contest the London seat will be defending a large majority. It was previously represented by former Labour MP Margaret Hodge for 40 years. 

PoliticsHome contacted Darren Rodwell for comment.

The decision by the Labour Party comes after The Independent reported that Rodwell is being investigated over an allegation of sexual harassment.

According to the report, the complainant said they met Rodwell for coffee to discuss a development in Barking but he "started touching" their "hands and legs in a sexual way".

Rodwell issued a statement on Monday strongly denying the allegations.

“I have not engaged in sexual harassment of any kind,” he wrote. “I did not indulge in ‘inappropriate touching’ of an attendee at an event last month.”

He declared he had “no recollection” of the meeting in question and “no evidence of any such meeting in my diary”. He added that he does not drink alcohol. 

“I can only imagine that I am a victim of some sort of attempt to prevent me being Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Barking,” Rodwell said.

The BBC also reported on Monday that Rodwell had asked police in 2022 not to respond if they were contacted by a resident he was planning to confront at their home.

The council leader claimed he used official systems to find the address of the person who had threatened him online.

In 2022, Rodwell publicly apologised after saying he had the “worst tan possible for a black man” at a Black History Month event.

The BBC subsequently reported that he had privately dismissed criticism of the comments as being “part of a smear campaign” against him.

Labour investigated Rodwell over this incident and cleared him after an interview by the party’s NEC.

He was also criticised for attaching a "Darren Rodwell for Barking" banner on gravestones at his campaign launch event in October last year.

Rodwell has been praised by Labour figures in the past for successfully fighting off the British National Party in Barking when its leader Nick Griffin stood for Barking at the 2010 election.

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