Campaign to clear councillor convicted of paedophile slur

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Friends and political colleagues of a London councillor convicted of making false allegations of paedophilia against her gay opponent have set up a campaign to support her appeal.

Miranda Grell was barred from public office for three years and fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs by Waltham Forest Magistrates Court last month.

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.

She was found guilty after a three day trial of two charges of “making a false statement of fact about Mr Smith’s personal character or conduct,” contrary to election law.

Witnesses testified that while campaigning for the seat she had told voters that Mr Smith had a 14-year-old Thai boyfriend.

Ms Grell is maintaining her innocence and insists that the verdict goes against the weight of the evidence heard in court and flies in the face of justice.

She has been suspended as a local councillor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest pending her appeal.

The “Justice for Leyton Ward” campaign has been launched by Ms Grell’s friends, family, constituents and political colleagues, to raise awareness of her appeal and raise funds to pay for her legal team.

Andrew Lock, chair of the campaign, said:

“Miranda and everyone who knows her were utterly shocked at the guilty verdict against her.

“Those of us who campaigned with Miranda in 2006 remember nothing but a happy, vibrant and exciting local election campaign that energised the Leyton community and parts of the ward that had been abandoned for years.

“Miranda is maintaining her innocence and her lawyers have lodged a formal appeal.

“We hope that the Leyton ward residents who supported Miranda Grell at the local elections last year will now support her fight for justice too.”