East Putney Councillor Loses Tory Whip

Cllr Robert Morritt is now working as an independent councillor

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A spokesman for the Wandsworth Conservatives confirmed that on 31st October, the Conservative whip was removed from Cllr Robert Morritt who was elected as a Conservative candidate in May 2010.

Cllr Morritt continues as an In dependent Councillor on Wandsworth Council, however Cllr Rex Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group, believes that this should not be. Cllr Osborn posted on the Wandsworth Labour website, "..the voters of East Putney did not elect an independent in 2010. The honourable course of action for Cllr. Morritt is to resign his Council seat."

Cllr Osborn, pictured left, continued, "To be removed from the Conservative Group, Cllr. Morritt must have done something wrong. The voters of East Putney should be told what it was Cllr Morritt did. Allegations have appeared in two national publications, and a website, concerning the conduct of Cllr. Morritt and his handling of funds during his time employed by Wandsworth Conservatives and his early days as a councillor. He has insisted he is innocent. The voters of Wandsworth deserve to be told which, if any, of these allegations are true."

The allegations have been detailed on the website OrderOrder.com, "The scandal is centred around the group’s agent at the last election Rob Morritt who was exposed for fraudulently cooking the books to hide more than £30,000 in missing money and a secret £25,000 Addison Lee bill. Blank cheques, dodgy expenses and lies – Morritt used every trick in the book."

The spokesman for Wandsworth Conservatives could not comment on the allegations.

There has been criticism from members on the forum that there has been no response from the Council. A spokesman for Wandsworth Council was also unable to comment telling PutneySW15.com, that it was, "an internal party matter rather than a council one".

On the Putney forum Adam Gray explained: "'He is still a councillor because he derives his seat from the electorate, not his party. He can choose to remain a councillor without party affiliation or he can resign his seat. 

"If he were to resign his seat there will be a by-election if it is relinquished before 22 November, or not if he does so after that date (any seat vacated within six months of a council election stays vacant until that big election). 

"While he is without the Conservative whip he cannot be selected as a Conservative candidate for next year's council elections. I understand that there are moves under way to go even further and expel him from the Conservative Party - but that is a matter for Putney Conservative Association, not the Conservative councillors. 

"In short, he remains a councillor but cannot stand again as a Conservative anywhere until such time as the whip is reinstated. If he is subsequently expelled from his party then the whip can't be reinstated. So unless he decides to run as an independent and wins a seat that way (which is astronomically unlikely), his council career will end next May".

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November 7, 2013