Miranda Grell

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Miranda Grell
Born June 1978 (age 38–39)
Residence London
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Manchester
Known for Making false statements about political opponent in breach of electoral law
Title Councillor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Term May 2006 - November 2007
Predecessor Barry Smith
Successor Winnie Smith
Political party Labour Party
Criminal charge Making a false statement of fact about a candidate's personal character or conduct for electoral advantage
Criminal penalty Barred from holding public office for 3 years
Website www.mirandagrell.com

Miranda Agnes Jayne Grell (born June 1978) is a barrister and former Labour Party councillor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest. She was the first person to be found guilty of making false statements under the Representation of the People Act 1983, having made false allegations of paedophilia[2] against her political opponent, Barry Smith, during an election campaign. Grell was banned for holding public office for three years as a result.

She subsequently trained to become a barrister and was called to the Bar in 2014.[3]

Early life[edit]

Grell was born in 1978 to parents from Dominica who had moved to Britain in 1973.[4] She says she had no relationship with her father.[5] She attended Walthamstow School for Girls,[6] studied European studies with modern languages at the University of Manchester, gaining a first class honours degree, and took a master's degree in industrial relations from the London School of Economics.[4]

Politics[edit]

Grell joined the Labour Party in 1999 having been persuaded to do so by her friend and fellow student Chuka Umunna,[7][8] who became an MP in 2010.

At the time she stood in the Waltham Forest local election, she worked as a senior policy adviser to the conciliation service Acas. She had previously worked as a trainee speech writer for Anna Diamantopoulou.[4] Following her election to the council, she went to work as a researcher for the then deputy mayor of London, Nicky Gavron.[9] She served on the management committee of the pressure group Compass from June 2005 until her resignation from the committee on 30 November 2007.[10] Grell was also a school governor.[11]

2006 local election controversy[edit]

Grell was elected in the May 2006 local elections for the Leyton ward of Waltham Forest London Borough Council. The ward returned three councillors, two Liberal Democrats and one Labour, Grell, in the third position.[12] In 2002, Leyton had returned three Liberal Democrats. Grell gained the seat when the Liberal Democrats made gains in the borough.[13] However, in September 2007, she went on trial on charges under the Representation of the People Act 1983 of making a false statement of fact about a candidate's personal character or conduct for electoral advantage, specifically that she made allegations of paedophilia against her gay Liberal Democrat opponent, Barry Smith. In addition to losing his seat Smith stated he was verbally abused in the street, spat at, and forced to relocate to the north of England as a result of the false allegations, fearing for his life.[4][14]

Grell admitted to outing her opponent and falsely claiming he had a 19-year-old Thai boyfriend (Smith's partner was actually 39 and Malaysian), though she denied making the false allegations of paedophilia to four residents. Witnesses against Grell included a Labour voter and also another Labour candidate for her ward, Nicholas Russell. On 21 September 2007, she was found guilty on two counts fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 towards the prosecution costs.[14]

On 24 October 2007, Grell's supporters launched a campaign to finance her appeal,[15] but it was later reported that the Labour Party would pay her legal costs.[9] Labour then withdrew this support. On 27 November, The Independent newspaper quoted a party spokesman: "Following legal advice in the last few days, the Labour Party today withdrew its support for Miranda Grell's appeal."[16] Criticism was levelled at the party for supporting Grell's appeal, in particular by gay rights campaigner and former Labour candidate Peter Tatchell.[14]

Grell's appeal hearing began on 28 November 2007 at Snaresbrook Crown Court before Judge Peter Birts QC and two lay magistrates. On 30 November, Grell's conviction for making false statements about another candidate to gain electoral advantage was upheld. She vacated her seat and was banned from holding public office for three years.[2] The by-election for Leyton ward on 14 February 2008 was won by Liberal Democrat Winnie Smith.[17]

Following the appeal verdict, Grell resigned from the Labour Party, from her job working for the deputy mayor of London, and from the management committee of the Compass pressure group, but still claimed innocence,[10][18] continuing to do so years afterwards.[19]

Subsequent career[edit]

In 2011 she became the interim development officer, then business development manager, of the Hackney Community Law Centre.[20] She was the 2014 recipient of the Reita Clarke Memorial Award for outstanding achievement, awarded by the Law Centres Network.[21]

In November 2014, after completing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at the City University Law School in Gray's Inn London, Grell was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Inner Temple. She was proposed by former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley.[3]

She was actively involved in the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign in Leyton and Wanstead[22] and nationally, appearing in official campaign videos.[23]

She appeared as an audience member on the 'EU Referendum: The Great Debate' television programme broadcast on BBC One on 21 June 2016.[24][25]

See also[edit]

  • Phil Woolas (Labour MP later disqualified under same law)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Confirmed (Part II)". Miranda Grell blog. 27 September 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Councillor slurred election rival". BBC News. 21 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Miranda Grell wins Reita Clarke Memorial Award 2014 | Hackney Community Law Centre
  4. ^ a b c d "Labour activist accused of branding political rival 'a paedophile' to win council seat". Daily Mail. 11 September 2007. 
  5. ^ "In Praise of Fairy Godfathers". Miranda Grell blog. 21 June 2009. 
  6. ^ "Neglect Not the Gift that is In Thee". Miranda Grell blog. 20 January 2007. 
  7. ^ OBV Profile: Miranda Grell | OBV
  8. ^ "Posted by Moral Compass (Greater London)". Compass, comments. 15 September 2007, 12:01:46 AM. 
  9. ^ a b "Labour backs shamed councillor". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. 5 November 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Posted by Gavin Hayes (Compass)". Compass, comments. 4 December 2007, 11:46:36 AM. 
  11. ^ "George Mitchell Launches National Enterprise Week" (PDF). GMT. January 2007. p. 6. 
  12. ^ 2006 Leyton results on Waltham Forest council website
  13. ^ Local elections: Waltham Forest; BBC News, 5 May 2006
  14. ^ a b c Tatchell, Peter (3 December 2007). "The case for a fair fight". The Guardian, Comment is Free. 
  15. ^ "WALTHAM FOREST: Campaign launched to clear sex slur councillor's name". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. 24 October 2007. 
  16. ^ "Councillor appeals against gay slur conviction". Pink News. 27 November 2007. 
  17. ^ "LEYTON BY-ELECTION LIVE: Lib Dems regain seat - more reaction". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. 
  18. ^ "WALTHAM FOREST: Miranda Grell resigns from party and job". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. 
  19. ^ "Dust your shoulders: from PR disaster to brand retribution". OPELLO™. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  20. ^ "Our Team". Hackney Community Law Centre. 
  21. ^ "Law Centres tackle adversity with creativity". Legal Voice. 
  22. ^ "EU campaigners fight for votes in Wanstead". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. Retrieved 2016-05-28. 
  23. ^ Britain Stronger In Europe (2016-03-08), Britain Stronger in Europe - International Women's Day, retrieved 2016-05-28 
  24. ^ "EU Referendum: The Great Debate". BBC iPlayer. Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  25. ^ "Boris Johnson leads Brexiteers against Remain backers in TV showdown". Retrieved 2016-06-24. 

External links[edit]