Brighton TV presenter’s bid to restand for Labour halted after questions raised over failed newspaper bankruptcy
A Brighton TV presenter’s bid to be reselected as Labour’s parliamentary candidate has been halted by a row over a messy bankruptcy in her past.
Sophie Cook, who stood for Labour in East Worthing and Shoreham last year, was due to take part in hustings today with two other candidates hoping to be selected to contest the seat in the next general election.
But the other two candidates dropped out after the local selection panel’s request to drop Ms Cook from the shortlist was vetoed by the party’s national executive committee – scuppering the selection which cannot proceed with just one candidate.
The local party was unhappy with answers she gave to questions about her former company, Seeker Photography Ltd, which published a free newspaper in Poole and went bust owing almost £90,000 in 2013.
Liquidator Simon Renshaw’s report, published last year, said that the directors, Ms Cook and her then wife Dawn, had borrowed close to £25,000 from the company to supplement their salary – money which there was no realistic prospect of being repaid.
Sources told the Guardian that information had been sent to the regional office about financial irregularities, and Ms Cook was subsequently called into be re-interviewed.
It’s alleged that Ms Cook had not told the panel about the information in the first round interview, and could not satisfactorily answer their questions.
The Guardian also quotes a friend of Cook’s who said: “Like many people a business start up of Sophie’s went bankrupt. She made this clear to both the local party and the NEC.”
A local party source told Brighton and Hove News that Ms Cook has been something of a marmite figure with activists.
As part of her campaign for reselection, she has been publishing endorsements from local party figures as well as Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle , hardline Corbynista MP Chris Williamson and Attila the Stockbroker.
However, other local party members who worked with her at the last election felt she had been imposed by Labour HQ, and found her rude and publicity hungry.
Last year, sitting Tory MP Tim Loughton’s majority was slashed from 10,000 to 5,000, and many feel this makes it a winnable seat at the next election.
However, despite changing demographics, Mr Loughton’s votes increased from 2015 to 2017, and his share of the vote only dropped from 49.5% to 48.9%.
The national Labour party said the selection would be restarted again in due course.
Ms Cook, who works for Latest TV, did not respond to Brighton and Hove News’ requests for comment.