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Labour Party breaks its silence in election dispute
Hertsmere Labour Party has unleashed a stinging attack on former member Councillor Frank Ward following his decision to stand as an independent in May's borough and town elections.
The party has, until last week, been silent about Mr Ward's failure to be selected as a candidate for Kenilworth ward in Borehamwood, a seat which he has held for 24 years.
A statement released by the constituency Labour Party's press officer, Jon Galliers, who is also chairman of Borehamwood and Shenley Branch Labour Party, states: "The local Labour Party has endured many months of slurs, innuendos and baseless allegations from Mr Ward.
"Despite these provocations, the local Labour Party has stuck to its principles by trying to resolve these issues amicably and directly with the parties involved. We continue to call on him to provide a single scrap of evidence to support his absurd allegations.
"It cannot be a coincidence that his actions coincide neatly with his recent failure to be selected."
The party denies there has been any conspiracy or religious discrimination against Mr Ward.
In a letter to this newspaper, Councillor Leon Reefe, Labour group leader on Hertsmere Borough Council, said: "His failure to convince the Labour Party assessment panel as to his suitability to be a Labour Party candidate is entirely down to his own actions and capabilities.
"To claim some spurious religious persecution is both preposterous and somewhat delusional. Furthermore, his refusal to attend the appeal hearing that he himself requested speaks volumes."
But Mr Ward insisted he had not received an appeal - saying the appeal hearing Mr Reefe referred to was in fact another selection panel. He said: "They never investigated any of my complaints."
He said his letter of appeal was 11 pages long with 51 appendices.
He added: "The whole thing was delivered in a lever arch file to the Labour Party in London and a copy went to Hazel Blears.
"All I got in return was a letter from an officer saying she considered my complaints to be trivial."