Suspended Sandwell Labour councillor could stand for Tories in local election

A long-standing Labour councillor in Sandwell could stand for the Conservatives in May's election, it has emerged.

Councillor Ian Jones
Councillor Ian Jones

Tipton Green councillor Ian Jones, who is currently suspended by the Labour Party, said he is "keeping his options open" for the poll on May 6 and has not ruled out crossing the floor.

He was first elected to Sandwell Council in 1998 and has served in the cabinet.

He was suspended by Labour for a second time last year on what he claims were "trumped up charges", and says he is considering going to the high court to get the suspension overturned.

Asked to confirm claims from sources that he was planning to stand for the Conservatives, Mr Jones said: "I cannot stand for the Labour Party because I am still suspended.

"I am not ruling out anything at the minute, whether to go back to the high court or whether to stand as an independent or a different party."

The Conservatives – who do not hold any of the 72 seats on Sandwell Council – are understood to be preparing to put Mr Jones forward as their candidate for Tipton Green.

Mr Jones was initially suspended by Labour five years ago while he was under investigation over land deals as part of the Wragge report.

His suspension was lifted in the high court after a legal battle he says cost him £30,000, but the following year he was suspended again over allegations of improper conduct.

In 2018 he was also sanctioned by the council's ethics committee after he was found to have breached the members code of conduct.

He has always denied any wrongdoing and says Labour is preparing to enforce its "highest disciplinary" powers against him over his latest suspension.

"Five years ago I set national precedence for people who were unlawfully suspended," Mr Jones said.

"Now I am in exactly the same position, on trumped up charges and trumped up allegations.

"I believe this is a political witch hunt by powerful people in the party."

Under Labour Party rules any member who stands as or supports another candidate against the official Labour candidate is “auto-excluded", meaning a fast-track expulsion.

Mr Jones' wife, Olwen Jones, is a Labour councillor in Wednesbury South. His son Richard Jones is a councillor in Old Warley and his son's partner, Richard McVittie, represents Newton.

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