Portsmouth Labour councillor is suspended from party following complaint
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Councillor Judith Smyth, the chairwoman of Portsmouth City Council's planning committee, had been the group's opposition spokeswoman for planning but will now represent her St Jude ward as a non-aligned independent councillor while an investigation by the national party takes place.
The leaders of the council's four political groups were told about the suspension earlier today (Thursday) while an email from chief executive David Williams was sent to all councillors late this afternoon.
He said Cllr Smyth's suspension would require a review of the political balance of committees and that this would be brought forward as a late item for consideration at Tuesday's (December 6) full council meeting.
Cllr Smyth, a long-standing Labour member, won her seat in the 2018 election and was re-elected in May this year.
Speaking to The News, she said her 'participation in the Portsmouth Labour group and CLP (constituency Labour Party)' and been suspended while the investigation takes place. She added that her membership of the national party had not been.
‘We are a party that rightly has rules and standards,’ she said. 'I have been suspended because of a complaint made about me.
‘I hope that this matter is dealt with quickly because I want to get back to working as part of the Labour group as soon as possible.’
The nature of the complaint has not been made public. The investigation is expected to take several weeks to complete.
Councillor Cal Corkery, the leader of the city council's Labour group, which had until today included Cllr Smyth, said she had the group’s full backing.
'Judith Smyth has been a long-standing member of the Labour Party for over 50 years and has lived in Southsea for 40 years, serving as a pillar of the community,' he said. 'She has always put her constituents first and works tirelessly for the people of Portsmouth.
'She enjoys our full support and we are hopeful the party will conclude its investigation and reinstate her membership status as a matter of urgency.'
A Labour Party spokesman said: 'The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.'