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LONDON LIB DEMS SAY NO EXPULSIONS FOR 'RACIST' LEAFLET

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Shadow Environment Secretary Jack Straw this week accused the Liberal Democrats' London regional executive of a whi...
Shadow Environment Secretary Jack Straw this week accused the Liberal Democrats' London regional executive of a whitewash after it rejected national party advice and decided not to expel two Tower Hamlets party activists for promoting allegedly racist election leaflets. But Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor said the executive's decision was in line with recommendations made by a party inquiry. Jeremy Shaw, a member of the Liberal Democrat council whom an inquiry into the allegations of racism recommended should be expelled, has resigned, the national party said this week.

Betty Wright, who was criticised for failing to co-operate with the inquiry, has not been selected to stand again, the party said. The inquiry report recommended she and council members Jim Smith and John Snooks be disciplined by the region.

But the regional executive has yet to take any action against them or decide whether to put up an alternative candidate to Mr Shaw. Former leader Eric Flounders, who renounced his party membership in protest, will also stand down before the May election. The report recommended 'that the London regional party should, subject to the right to make representations and if necessary to appeal, commence the constitutional procedures to revoke the membership of councillor Shaw, Jonathan Mathews and Tom Winnifrith'. But Mr Taylor said the report also allows the three to 'give appropriate and enforceable and effective undertakings about their future conduct'.

Because Tom Winnifrith and Jonathan Mathews had accepted the report's findings and 'expressed regret about the effect of their actions' they could continue as party members, Mr Taylor said.

Mr Straw said the decision of the executive represented 'a major humiliation' for Lord Lestor and party leader Paddy Ashdown who urged implementation of the report's recommendations.
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