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Labour Faces Calls To Keep Keith Vaz Out Of Party Politics

Keith Vaz

Labour faces calls to keep Keith Vaz out of party politics

Labour is facing calls to stop Keith Vaz, the former Labour minister reprimanded last week for “sustained and unpleasant bullying”, from being involved in the party.

The demands follow disclosures that he was expected to speak at a conference fringe meeting alongside shadow ministers and has taken up a new party role in Leicester.

The ex-MP for Leicester East was scheduled to speak at a Hindus for Labour event on Wednesday. Other guests, according to the party’s fringe listings, include Preet Gill, the shadow international development secretary, and Steve Reed, the shadow communities secretary.

Several Leicester party members have told the Guardian that Vaz should no longer be involved in the party.

Helen Lentell, a local party member at the conference, said: “Keith Vaz should not be involved with the party, full stop. He has been shown to be a bully. The party should exclude him from the party. He should not be able or allowed to represent the party, hold office in the party, or speak at party events. The party should keep him out of party politics, because he has damaged the party’s reputation and standing.”

Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “Why is Keith Vaz still a member of the Labour party after his litany of much publicised transgressions?”

Labour sources confirmed that Vaz had also taken up a role on the party’s local government committee in his home city of Leicester, provoking anger among some local activists.

Last week, an independent expert panel said Vaz was guilty of “sustained and unpleasant bullying, with a real and enduring psychological impact” that had ended the career of a parliamentary staff member, Jenny McCullough.

“[Vaz’s] conduct to the complainant was hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a member of parliament. He should be ashamed of his behaviour,” said the panel chair, Sir Stephen Irwin.

Vaz, 64, a former Europe minister, who was in the Commons for more than 30 years, declined to cooperate with the investigation, saying he was too ill.

Vaz stood down from parliament at the 2019 election, having been handed a six-month suspension from the Commons after he was caught offering to buy class A drugs for male sex workers.

Sources confirmed that Vaz was elected in August to Labour’s local government committee in Leicester as a union representative. The 36-strong body scrutinises the work of Leicester council.

One witness said: “It was a big shock to see him back in the Labour fold, given his previous behaviour.”

Eyebrows were raised in the city over the weekend when a leaflet distributed among Leicester East constituents by a campaign against boundary changes included a large photo and quote from Vaz. The leaflet also included a letter written by Vaz calling for a halt to road changes.

The MP who succeeded him in Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, is due to face trial for harassment on Monday, a charge she vehemently denies. Webbe was a Labour MP but is now independent after having the whip withdrawn. Speculation is rife that Vaz would consider standing in the seat again if she were to face a recall petition.

Asked to comment, Vaz said he would not consider standing as an MP in future elections but defended his right to still be involved in local campaigns.

“I and family members have lived in Leicester for 34 years. As a private citizen I am happy to support local and national causes I feel passionate about. My various interests are well known. I write letters. I sign petitions. I have retired, I am not dead.

“I have recently been hospitalised and diagnosed with Bell’s palsy and I am undergoing treatment for this and other conditions. I try not to be bothered by what is said by others about me it does not help my recovery.”

Vaz wrote to say he did not plan to speak at a fringe event. “I am not speaking at any fringe meeting anywhere and have not done so for several years,” he said.

Labour has been approached for a comment.

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TCN Restores National Grid

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has announced the restoration of the national grid after its partial collapse on Monday.

This was made known by Mrs Ndidi Mbah, TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs in a statement in Abuja.

Mbah said that the national grid experienced partial system disturbance at about 10.51 am, as a result of a sudden drop in system frequency, which created system instability.

She said that the restoration of the affected grid commenced immediately at 11.55 am with Osogbo/Ihovbor, followed by Jebba/Osogbo, Kainji/Jebba, Benin/Onitsha, Shiroro/Kaduna, Shiroro/Katampe and Alaoji/Ikot-Ekpene.

Others are Lokoja/Gwagwalada, Odukpani/Ikot Ekpene, Benin/Omotosho, Oke-Aro/Ikeja west, Egbin/Oke-Aro and Kaduna/Kano.

She said the grid restoration has almost been completed, adding that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) regrets any inconveniences caused.

Mbah said NESI appreciated the understanding of electricity customers within and outside the country.

According to her, NESI is committed to leveraging the concerted interventions instituted so far to enhance power supply reliability so that the issue of system disturbance will soon become outdated.

She said the National Control Centre would launch a full-scale investigation “to establish and ascertain the cause of the partial disturbance as this unwholesome event has resulted in aggregated generation loss.



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Chukwudi Ajaegbu, 35, Arraigned For $11,000 Fraud

A 35-year-old importer, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, has been arraigned before the Ogba Magistrate’s Court for allegedly obtaining $11,000 fraudulently from one Austine Ukaoha in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

Ajaegbu appeared before Magistrate F.M. Onamusi on a three count charge.

The defendant, with others at large, were said to have conspired to commit felony, to wit stealing, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.

According to the police, sometime in 2010 on Bread Fraint Street, in the Balogun area of Lagos, the defendant, with others at large, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum under false pretences.

The charges read in part, “That you, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, on the same date, time and place, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did fraudulently obtain the sum of $11,000 from one Austine Ukaoha, under the pretence of importing goods from China, the presentation known to be false, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 314 (3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Magistrate Onamusi adjourned the matter till December 7, 2022.

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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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