A councillor who failed to win re-selection to defend his seat on Bradford Council was the victim of a “smear campaign”, a Conservative Party inquiry has concluded.
A report leaked to the Telegraph & Argus says a panel of three senior Tories has ruled there was a smear campaign about former executive member Councillor Adrian Naylor, and this was the backdrop to a candidate selection meeting for the Craven ward last November.
The panel said it was “shown absolutely no reliable evidence of any wrongdoing by Councillor Naylor, despite hearing of many concerns, issues and allegations”.
Former Tory member Coun Naylor, who appealed the selection decision, went on to retain his seat in May’s elections as an independent candidate, defeating Conservative candidate Andrew Rowley.
According to the report, the panel also ruled fellow Craven ward councillor Andrew Mallinson and Bradford Council Tory Group leader Glen Miller should not have been involved in determining Coun Naylor’s re-selection, and believed Coun Miller had decided he was going to try to replace Coun Naylor.
“The histories between the individuals were such that they could not be said to be impartial,” said the panel in the report.
The panel heard Coun Miller’s reason for not re-selecting Coun Naylor was due to his “shoddy attire and attitude” at a selection meeting last November. Coun Miller also told the panel Coun Naylor refused to work with his ward colleagues.
The hearing called on senior local Conservatives, including Coun Miller, MP Kris Hopkins and Keighley and Ilkley Conservative Association chairman Dorothy Clamp, to “bring people together and not create factions”.
Coun Naylor said last night: “I welcome the report and its findings, which exonerate me.”
Coun Miller declined to comment.
Coun Mallinson said he never instigated any slur campaign against Coun Naylor, and stuck to purely election campaigning in the run-up to the election. Mrs Clamp said the Association had followed procedures as far as possible in the selection process.
Mr Hopkins, who this week spoke out against a “shameful” smear campaign against Coun Naylor, said he intended to play the “fullest part possible” in resolving the issues the Association needed to address.