Two Labour councillors who faced claims they actually live in Leicester have been expelled from the party.
Bharti Gajjar and Chandni Mistry were suspended from committes and the local party last week. Brighton and Hove News reported they were being investigated because of concerns they had lied about their Brighton connections.
This morning, the local Labour party confirmed the investigation was over, they had been expelled and local party’s chief whip has called on them to stand down.
Cllr Sankey said: “Claims concerning these councillors’ places of residence have been investigated and each has had their membership of the Labour Party cancelled.
“We have therefore taken immediate steps to have them removed from the Labour group of councillors at Brighton and Hove City Council.”
Chief whip Amanda Grimshaw said: “We now call on Councillors Gajjar and Mistry to do the right thing and stand down from the council, so that the people of Kemptown and Queen’s Park can elect new councillors to represent them.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.
“In this case, the party has decided to cancel the membership of Bharti Gajjar and Chandni Mistry.”
A council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that concerns about election malpractice have been sent to the council and Returning Officer.
“Legislation and Electoral Commission guidance regarding the election process is clear that the Returning Officer must not undertake any investigation or research into a candidate.
“Nomination forms should be taken at face value and any information provided on Home Address or Consent to Nomination forms should not be checked for accuracy – other than to check that the address can be commonly understood.
“Any allegations of election malpractice should be made to the police and / or the courts.”
Bharti Gajjar was elected in Kemptown in the May elections, and Chandni Mistry in Queen’s Park.
Being expelled from a political party does not mean a councillor has to stand down.
However, if a councillor is convicted of a corrupt or illegal electoral practice this would disqualify them from remaining as a councillor.
Under the Represenation of the People Act 1983, this includes giving a statement of the name or home address of a candidate at the election which they know to be false in any particular.
Although the nomination papers for both councillors have been redacted, both state they gave an address in Brighton and Hove.
The offence of making a false statement on nomination papers carried a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment.