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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 03:02 GMT 04:02 UK
Councillor accused over 'slurs'
Miranda Grell
Miranda Grell denied making false statements about her opponent
A Labour politician beat a gay Liberal Democrat opponent in a London local election by making homophobic comments about him to voters, a court has heard.

Nicholas Russell told Waltham Forest magistrates his running mate, Miranda Grell, had a "disgusting attitude".

He said Ms Grell told voters her rival Barry Smith claimed to be married yet had a 14-year-old Thai boyfriend.

Ms Grell, 29, denies four counts of making false statements about another candidate to gain electoral advantage.

Mr Smith, 56, who has a long-term 39-year-old Malaysian partner, had served on Waltham Forest Council in east London for three years and was defending a 600-vote majority in last year's elections.

The court heard Mr Smith was devastated by the way he had lost his seat to Ms Grell by 28 votes. He later moved to northern England.

In the final weeks of canvassing, people slammed doors in his face and, after his defeat, he was abused, threatened and spat at, the court heard.

Miss Grell told me to ask him about his 14-year-old boyfriend as she was driving away from the front of the house
Naomi Robinson, voter

Leyton resident Naomi Robinson told the court she was shocked to hear Ms Grell call Mr Smith a paedophile during the election campaign.

She said: "Miss Grell told me to ask him [Mr Smith] about his 14-year-old boyfriend as she was driving away from the front of the house.

"I was quite shocked actually. I was not sure whether to believe it was true or not."

'Sidelined'

The court heard that in a police interview Ms Grell said such comments were "patently absurd".

She admitted telling one voter Mr Smith was gay and had a "19-year-old Thai boyfriend", and believed in hindsight this was indiscreet, the court heard.

Paul Williams, defending, claimed Mr Russell felt sidelined by Ms Grell who was dictating their campaign battle plan.

Mr Williams accused him of resenting his energetic running mate, who had been photographed with Cherie Blair and US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

The trial continues.


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