Havering councillor Damian White claims his election was valid amid investigation
A top Havering councillor’s election was the subject of a police investigation over an allegation of deception, according to an internal council report due to be considered tonight behind closed doors, but seen by the Recorder.
The police investigation concluded that no crime had been committed.
However, Havering Council has also conducted its own investigation into claims Cllr Damian White was not resident in the borough when he ran for election.
Cllr White says his election was completely valid and that the allegations are “without substance”.
A report from the council’s audit department in February concluded that Cllr White “was not normally resident” at the Romford address given on his election papers at the time he stood for election.
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Cllr White, who chairs Havering’s towns and communities overview and scrutiny committee and sits on three other council groups, was elected in May 2010 to the Hylands ward.
Cllr White stood in Hylands on the basis that he was registered in Havering as an elector, which the council’s legal department confirmed as being the case.
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This registration would have required that Cllr White be resident in Havering when the electoral roll was compiled, a point made in the council’s most recent report.
His residence on the day he submitted his election papers in 2010 has been the subject of two investigations by the council, the second of which is due to conclude tonight.
“Two reports by two of the most senior legal officers of Havering Council have established that I was legally eligible to stand,” Cllr White said this week.
“I stood for council on the basis I was on the electoral register in Havering. I fulfilled that requirement.”
On Thursday evening, Havering Council’s adjudication and review committee (standards hearings panel) was due to meet to consider the report from its legal department into whether Cllr White had breached the members’ code of conduct.
But because Cllr White was not an elected official at the time he ran for office, the legal officer in charge of this week’s report recommends he can’t be guilty of breaching the code – even though the February 2012 investigation states at one point that “the available evidence” indicates that “false statements” were made about Cllr White’s residence
The legal office’s report describes some of the evidence from the February investigation as “circumstantial”.
Cllr White told the Recorder: “My election was completely valid – I was entitled to stand. If [the panel] does decide no breach has occurred, all the allegations are without substance.”
Pick up tomorrow’s paper to read more.