Sandwell Labour councillor 'bullied after refusing to vote for Yvonne Davies'
A Labour councillor in Sandwell claims he has faced bullying and harassment after he refused to vote for a certain candidate in the borough party's leadership election.
Wednesbury North councillor Luke Giles said he refused to vote for Yvonne Davies - allegedly endorsed by senior Labour figures - in Sandwell Council's leadership election in March.
Councillor Davies was defeated by 37 votes to 27 votes by Steve Trow in that election but went on to become party and council leader in May after Councillor Trow stood down.
Councillor Giles says he faced bullying and harassment from the Labour Party and his trade union after refusing to vote for Councillor Davies and claims that attempts were made to suspend him from the party.
He said: "They (the West Bromwich West Constituency Labour Party) sent an email to the complaints department at Labour trying to get me suspended so I wasn't part of the vote.
"Labour said it was some financial thing to do with an election, but it was never proven and the party said it was someone who had got it in for us."
He continued: "On the flip side, the regional director of Labour kept ringing me asking 'who are you voting for?'.
"And when I said I wasn't voting for Yvonne, he said 'are you scared of a strong woman?'
"I have been harassed and bullied. This caused great stress to myself and my family."
However councillor Giles wasn't suspended.
Councillor Davies defeated Ann Shackleton by 35 votes to 33 at the Labour group’s annual general meeting in May after Councillor Trow announced he was stepping down for personal reasons after just two months in charge.
Councillor Giles continued: "Running up to the election, they were offering me positions.
"I always say, I will never sell my vote and I stick to my principles."
In response, Councillor Davies said: "I remember having a conversation with Luke and he was claiming his union was bullying him.
"I made it clear it is nothing to do with me and I would not approve of anything of that nature."
Asked about him being offered positions ahead of the election, councillor Davies said: "No he certainly wasn't offered them by myself.
"I would be happy to see him in positions, I think he is a bright lad and has a lot to offer.
"Labour doesn't endorse candidates and certainly didn't endorse me."
'Completely false' - Labour
A West Midlands Labour source said: “This is the first we’ve heard of these allegations as no complaint has been submitted to the party. We can only investigate complaints we receive.
“The general secretary does not endorse or support candidates in Labour group elections and it is completely false to claim the regional director attempted to influence the result .”
However former council leader Steve Eling described this response as "beyond belief".
He added: "Yvonne Davies is saying she knew nothing about it, but she did as she told people at the time that she was the nationally approved candidate for leader."
Mr Eling remains under investigation having been suspended by Labour's National Executive Committee for unknown reasons in January.
He stood down as council leader in March, paving the way for the election which saw Councillor Trow defeat Councillor Davies.
Councillors Bill Cherrington and Julie Webb were expelled after they wished two independent candidates - former Labour councillors Dave and Shirley Hosell - good luck on social media.
Councillor Davies won the election by two votes, prompting accusations that the expulsion of the two councillors was premeditated.