The Labour Party is investigating whether two Brighton councillors suspended by the local group this week actually live in Leicester, Brighton and Hove News understands.
Cllr Bharti Gajjar and Cllr Chandni Mistry were both removed from Brighton and Hove City Council’s committees and outside bodies by the group’s chief whip Cllr Amanda Grimshaw yesterday.
It quickly emerged that Cllr Gajjar was previously sacked for fraud after 17 years working for British Gas in Leicester.
Party sources say the investigation is into whether the pair, who are thought to be aunt and niece, still live in the midlands, despite claiming to have longstanding links to Brighton.
Both were selected close to May’s elections by the party’s regional bosses, after selections were taken out of local party control because so many councillors had been expelled or quit over anti-Semitism allegations.
Councillor Bharti Gajjar, who represents the Kemptown ward, told the local democracy reporting service in May: “Kemp Town village is the best place to live in the city but then I’m biased because I’ve lived here for years.”
However, residents who have tried to get in contact with her say they have struggled to get a response.
Kemptown resident Alan Towler – who stood as a candidate in the ward for Brighton and Hove Independents, said: “Councillor Gajjar has been a hopeless councillor regardless of these allegations. Away for weeks on end and making zero impact on the ward.”
Cllr Gajjar is listed on Companies House as the sole director of three active companies registered to a Leicester address, under the name Bhartiben Gajjar.
Queen’s Park Councillor Chandni Mistry told the local democrary service in May she was “brought up in Queen’s Park”. But in 2020, she told The Leicester Mercury she was a medical student and “originally from Leicester”.
Social media posts suggests she was studying at Lancaster University in 2021. Aged just 19 when elected in May, she told The Brightonian last month she had taken her A-levels early.
Both councillors have attended all three full council meetings but only one committee meeting since May’s election. Both are yet to speak.
Cllr Mistry was shortlisted for a Young Councillor of the Year award by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) last month, despite being yet to speak at a council meeting.
She accepted the award for being a finalist at the LGIU event at the Guildhall in London, on Thursday, 16 November.
The Labour Party would not confirm what the subject of the investigations were and said they could not comment on any ongoing investigation.
Cllr Gajjar and Cllr Mistry were approached for comment but had not replied at the time of publication.