Councillor loses paedophile slur appeal

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A Labour party councillor convicted of making false allegations of paedophilia against her gay opponent has had her appeal rejected.

In September Miranda Grell, 29, was barred from public office for three years, fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs by Waltham Forest Magistrates Court.

Last week at Snaresbrook Crown Court her appeal against her conviction was unsuccessful.

The legal costs for her failed appeal were to be covered by the national Labour party.

However, during the appeal the party withdrew its support.

Ms Grell won a formerly safe Lib Dem seat on the London Borough of 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.

In September 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.

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.”

Grell had been suspended as a local councillor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest and as an aide to London Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron pending her appeal.

Her disqualification from office was put on hold while she appealed, but she will now have to vacate her council seat. It is unclear if she will remain as an aide to Ms Gavron.