Sunday, December 02, 2007

Miranda Grell: Loses Appeal, Resigns in Disgrace

Barrister Anthony Hook provides a couple of short paragraphs outlining the verdict on Miranda Grell's appeal:

Labour Councillor Miranda Grell’s conviction for making false statements about another candidate to gain electoral advantage (calling him a child abuser) was upheld today (Friday 30) by the Crown Court at Snaresbrook.
There will now be a by-election for her seat in Leyton.

In fact Anthony was working in the same court complex:

As chance would have it, I was at Snaresbrook myself this morning on one of my own cases and afterwards thought of popping into Court 7 to watch the end of Grell’s case, partly out of real professional interest to see how defence counsel fought such strong evidence.
Sadly, I couldn’t as I was called away to deal with someone else.

Not only is Anthony's note of the result the most professional I have seen in the blogsophere but he also relates bumping into the "prime Minister that got away":

Bob Marshall-Andrews (QC MP) was also at Snaresbrook this morning (not to do with the Grell case) and we had a very good chat about Kent politics, the state of the government, and other interesting subjects. Any party would be bloody lucky to have him.

The former Leyton councillor had of course been summarily convicted before a District Judge at Magistrates Court of two of four charges against her in September. That she attempted to gain electoral advantage by stating or implying that the Lib Dem incumbent was (a) a gay man and (b) had sexual relations with an under age partner.

This is an index of local Guardian Series press coverage:

WALTHAM FOREST: Miranda Grell blasted by campaign group 8:33am today

ANGER over ex-councillor Miranda Grell's behaviour during last year's Waltham Forest Council elections has been voiced by gay rights campaigners.

WALTHAM FOREST: Miranda Grell resigns from party and job 6:50pm Saturday 1st December 2007

IN a statement issues to the Guardian today, following her failed appeal to clear her name of smearing election rival Barry Smith, Miranda Grell said:
"This morning I resigned from both the Labour Party and my job working for the Deputy Mayor of London (Nicky Gavron), at the Greater London Authority.

LEYTON: Labour consider their relationship with Miranda Grell 9:51am Saturday 1st December 2007

MIRANDA Grell's future in the Labour Party is in doubt.

WALTHAM FOREST: Sex slur councillor told: 'You have let down yourself and your community' 8:34pm Friday 30th November 2007

SHAMED Waltham Forest councillor Miranda Grell wept in court as a judge told her today that she had let down herself and everyone in her community.

BREAKING NEWS: Councillor loses appeal after conviction for smearing rival 6:39pm Friday 30th November 2007

FORMER Waltham Forest Cllr Miranda Grell has lost her appeal against her conviction and fine for running a smear campaign against an election rival.

WALTHAM FOREST:Labour backs shamed councillor 5:52pm Monday 5th November 2007

THE Labour Party has decided to fund shamed councillor Miranda Grell's appeal against a ruling that she smeared an election rival.

WALTHAM FOREST: Campaign launched to clear sex slur councillor's name 9:51am Wednesday 24th October 2007

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to clear the name of disgraced councillor Miranda Grell, who was found guilty of falsely claiming an election rival was a paedophile.

'Sex slur' councillor to appeal 11:30am Friday 28th September 2007

CLLR Miranda Grell is set to appeal against a judgement that she falsely claimed an election rival was a paedophile during last year's local election.

UPDATE: Sex smear councillor's "political career over" 7:03pm Friday 21st September 2007

MIRANDA Grell has been found guilty of falsely claiming her gay election rival is a paedophile during last year's local election.

BREAKING NEWS: Waltham Forest councillor found guilty of smearing rival  3:39pm Friday 21st September 2007

LABOUR Cllr Miranda Grell has been found guilty on two counts of making false statements under the Representation of the People Act 1983 - the first case of its kind in Britain.

How different this all was from when the paper's first feature on Miranda Grell:

A close look into local politics 12:15pm Sunday 25th June 2006

AN idea of what life is like in local politics was shared with college students by new councillor, Miranda Grell.

This case, which was the first of its kind, raises many issues. Not least the situation related to legal aid which as Anthony Wood relates here is an extraordinarily unsatisfactory one. Other issues include the legality of blogger coverage of legal process, the right to appeal in principle and practice, support for defendants from their political parties, and what this verdict may mean for future campaigns on the ground.

Miranda Grell herself has resigned from the Labour Party, her work for GLA, and her voluntary work for Compass but she does continue to protest her innocence of all charges.

The Local Party meanwhile appear to have completely vanished their former comrade/colleague from their website (above is a grab of the current search result for Miranda Grell). This is the cache of an interview with her, and this is what you now get at the original URL.

MEANWHILE: Bloggers who know Miranda Grell personally, which I do not, and who provided online character witnesses; and also those like myself who sought, albeit rather clumsily at times, to find out what the evidence and the rationale for the verdict was, and/or who supported the right to appeal on principle seem to be getting collectively vilified and indeed so very paradoxically smeared as "apologists" for the behaviour of which Grell has now been found guilty twice over.

Far from reasonable. Far from the truth. Good for the Technorati 'authority' though! I'm guessing we might be back to that issue in a day or two.

For the moment I'll just say this. MY REGRETS:

(a) That I doubted the MSM coverage of the verdict was accurate in the first instance. Fortunately I quickly discovered it was and blogged that fact in a separate post. Better that it had been as an update to the same one;
(b) That certain bloggers continued and continue still to link to my first post on that coverage weeks later despite a number superceding it. I think that is both dishonest and unhelpful (I will have to annotate the blog post, but I don't wish to remove it, as that practice would be dishonest);
(c) That certain bloggers covered the case ahead of the first trial in ways that they would certainly criticise had a party colleague of theirs been the defendant, hoping for a fair trial; and
(d) That for such an important law as this, in its first outing, the trial was in a court with limited court reporting, no transcript and no written judgement, "notes" of limited status appearing weeks later.


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Anonymous said...

Sorry Paul - can you put the excess comments down yer memory hole ?


Chris Paul said...

Like that you mean?

If you are going to comment again GW please (a) avoid homophobic content graphic or otherwise and (b) avoid potentially defamatory content and (c) avoid schoolboy inaccuracies and generalisations.

You can put what you like on your own blog and I'll probably tolerate your posting a link to it but if you want to post homophobic or racist or unfactual or otherwise offensive remarks please don't do it here.

I'm not going to switch off comments overnight. Call it a test if you like. Please cut it out.

I let you post here within reason but please don't go over the obvious lines of legality. I'm sure that's just a temporary lapse in your enthusiasm to bish liberals but you are clearly a knowledgeable law man and will no doubt behave as one now that you have vented.

Please respect this sacred blog.


Anonymous said...

Hey ho. Game's finally up.

Yeh man throw's in the towel and climbs into the ring to kick his contender out of it.

It's something you're gonna have to get used to in the next week of so.


Anonymous said...

So what's the next campaign, Chris?

This one has used up all of your failing credibility so can I suggest you concentrate on the major Marie-Louise breaking story?

Manfarang said...

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Chris Paul said...

Anonymous 01:39

How major is the Marie Louise Gardens "breaking story"?

Probably much less so than the fact that Lib Dems are running round Brum selling every scrap of land publically used or otherwise? (and the MLG land was definitely otherwise)

Probably much less so that the fact the Liverpool Lib Dems are allowing a full on football stadium to be built in the middle of a grade II listed park in a conservation area
(MLG was not listed or conserved)

Probably even less so that the Lib Dems in Cardiff allowing an increased density and more cars on the parks around Sofia Gardens cricket ground - thereby snatching an Ashes Test from Old Trafford

Don't know how you can compare the two cases. The only simularity from my point of view is that whatever the verdicts the processes have not been entirely as they should have been.

Isn't it about time you identified yourselves? You've been coming round my place and slobbing about long enough without introducing yourselves ...

Mark Senior said...

It should be noted that another case is ongoing in Birmingham with a Labour councillor accused of telling lies about his LibDem opponent in the May elections . The case has taken a nasty turn with the DPP having been called in to investigate allegations of witness intimidation of LibDem witnesses .
Labour party members must obey the law and ignore the briefing document which tells them to " find one flaw then smear them all , go negative until swamped by complaints then do it again " They will rightly find themselves in court if they follow that route .

Anonymous said...

Come on, come on.

Your defence of Grell went way beyond the call of party loyalty.

It was bleedin' obvious that you knew all along she was probably guilty which is why we could take such malicious delight in goading you to become even more ridiculous in defence of her.

Your loyalty, however, is to respected. I note that Labour Party has now airbrushed her out of the record.


Chris Paul said...

Sockpuppet 12:11: Your work here is done. Go and play somewhere else.

I have no idea what I would have done if anything if this had been individuals from another party or the tables were turned but my interest in this case is not as some kind of "my party right or wrong" loyalists at all. I am often critical of the party. But I do think that loyalty is an under-rated virtue.

I have at NO POINT justified or apologised for the behaviour of which Grell was accused and has now been TWICE convicted. I haven't defended her except in insisting she has a right to appeal and that the formal process is what counts, not the bloggers speculating.

It is the process I'm interested in really. What was the evidence? What was the DJ's rationale? What should parties do? Where is the line drawn?

I am against any and all smearing of others, false allegations, communalism, incitement to vote against difference etc etc. I'm aware of quite a bit of it - mainly from other parties than my own but that is of course natural.

The other case which Mark mentions may help calibrate the law. As I've said elsewhen and elsewhere the convictions in Grell's case are of a high order accusation and don't really tell us where the law sets limits or even whether it will work in lesser cases.

The commenter that I have deleted mentioned the 1948 election libel act and I'd like to know more about that too.

Bring on some new law about misrepresenting facts about services and policies too ...

Chris Paul said...

Mark: Is this Birmingham case being blogged or covered by MSM? I'd like to take an interest. Probably however sitting on my hands this time!

Mark Senior said...

Chris , don't read many blogs so don't know if it is being covered elsewhere . Story was on timesonline on 1st December - article number 2981177 in case posting a link does not work