Councillor guilty of paedophile slurs against opponent
A Labour party councillor has been barred from public office for three years and fined £1000 for making false allegations of paedophilia against her gay opponent.
Miranda Grell, who works as a researcher for London’s Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, wept as District Judge John Woollard passed sentence.
Ms Grell, 29, was also ordered to pay £3000 towards prosecution costs.
She won a formerly safe Lib Dem seat on Waltham Forest council in last May’s elections.
Her Liberal Democrat opponent Barry Smith saw his majority of 600 overturned by Ms Grell, who took the Leyton ward council seat with a majority of 28.
Yesterday she was found guilty of two charges of “making a false statement of fact about Mr Smith’s personal character or conduct,” contrary to election law.
Her Labour running mate in the council elections, Nicholas Russell, gave evidence at Waltham Forest Magistrates Court that Ms Grell’s attitude was “disgusting.”
He testified that he had heard her tell voters that Mr Smith had a 14-year-old Thai boyfriend.
Leyton resident Naomi Robinson told the court:
“Miss Grell told me to ask him [Mr Smith] about his 14-year-old boyfriend as she was driving away from the front of the house.
“I was quite shocked actually. I was not sure whether to believe it was true or not,” she said.
Mr Smith is in a long-term relationship with a 39-year-old Malaysian man.
He testified that he suffered verbal abuse accusing him of paedophilia and had to leave his home because of threats to his safety.
“I was in a state of shock,” he said in court.
“It is bad enough that homophobia was being used against me, but when I heard there was a possible suspicion of paedophilia or implied paedophilia, some things just can’t be described.”
Ms Grell denied the allegations against her and said that she was the victim of a political conspiracy.
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She may appeal against her conviction.
The London Borough of Waltham Forest issued the following statement:
“Her conviction means she is automatically disqualified by law from holding office as a councillor for three years.
“She is also under a duty to vacate her office as a councillor. This duty may be suspended for up to three months if Councillor Grell appeals against her conviction.
“In the meantime, the law requires that she is suspended from performing any functions as a councillor, with immediate effect.
“In accordance with its legal duties, the council is taking appropriate steps to apply this suspension.”