A prominent BNP councillor has escaped suspension after a disciplinary hearing was postponed at the 11th hour
Today's hearing had been set up by City Hall and Barking and Dagenham council after Richard Barnbrook falsely claimed on YouTube that three people were murdered in three weeks in the borough. But last night officials were forced to delay the hearing after the BNP member of the London Assembly presented a dossier of new evidence denying that he had brought the Greater London Authority and council into disrepute.
Mr Barnbrook, who was elected to Barking and Dagenham council in 2006 and is one of 12 BNP councillors in the borough, was due to face a hearing three weeks ago but claimed he was too stressed to attend.
In the YouTube clip he posted last September, he claimed the borough had seen three murders in as many weeks. There had been one killing in the neighbouring borough of Newham, and no evidence of two other attacks, despite Mr Barnbrook insisting two victims died after being placed on life support machines. He told investigators he knew he was making inaccurate statements, and has since apologised, but said he was right to raise concerns about knife crime.
His comments led to a complaint to the council and Greater London Authority that he had brought both authorities into disrepute. The GLA's standards committee was to decide today whether to uphold an independent investigation's finding that Mr Barnbrook, who earns £52,910 as an Assembly member and £10,006 as a councillor, showed “wilful disregard for the truth”. If found guilty, he could be suspended from both authorities for up to six months.
Val Rush, Labour councillor in Barking and Dagenham, who brought the complaint, said Mr Barnbrook had undermined confidence in local authorities. Murders have fallen in Barking and Dagenham, from six in 2006/07 to three in 2007/08 and one in 2008/09.
Mr Barnbrook claims he was a victim of a political campaign and his comments about the first murder “came out wrong”. Investigators noted he made no attempt to remedy this by re-recording the video.