Shaheen’s lawyers challenge Labour deselection as she claims ‘bullying culture’ and ‘problem with brown people’

Tom Belger
Faiza Shaheen and party activists campaigning in Chingford and Woodford Green.

Lawyers for the former Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen have written to the party challenging her de-selection, as she claimed Labour suffers from an “ingrained culture of bullying” and a “problem with Black and brown people” –  and suggested she has faced more internal hostility than from the Conservatives.

Shaheen said she was meeting with her “campaign and legal teams to discuss next steps”, and LabourList understands a legal letter was sent to the party on her behalf on Thursday by lawyers at Howe & Co, which has also represented some subpostmasters and their families.

Shaheen is also urging supporters to sign up to her mailing list, with speculation over whether she could run still as an independent this general election.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Thursday he wanted the “highest-quality candidates” when asked about whether there had been a cull of left-wingers.

In a longer statement than her initial reaction on social media to the news, seen by LabourList, Shaheen hit out in stark terms at the party that she had been campaigning for in Chingford and Woodford Green until last night just hours before being told she was out – after a probe into her social media posts.

She alleged she had faced a campaign of “racism, Islamophobia and bullying from some in the party” since she said she hoped to run again as a candidate, after narrowly losing to Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith in 2019.

READ MORE: Labour denies ‘purge’ of left as Shaheen left shell-shocked by deselection

Shaheen claimed she had been subjected to a “campaign of prejudice, bullying and spiteful behaviour”, and that this had been “rewarded” by Labour’s national executive committee when her name was “added to the list of those not welcome in the candidate club”.

The candidate has also been keeping evidence of alleged efforts to “force me out”, she said, and she claimed she had been “singled out for unfair treatment”.

Shaheen added: “I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Labour, far from being a broad church encompassing different views, has an ingrained culture of bullying, a palpable problem with black and brown people and thinks nothing of dragging a person’s good name through the mud in pursuit of a factional agenda, with no thought of the impact on committed members’ mental health and well-being.

“I have not experienced this level of relentless hostility in all my personal or professional life – not even from the Conservatives.

“I am just heartbroken at this decision – heartbroken for the loyal party members who have supported me, for the voters pledging their vote to me and my friends and family who have helped me campaign through infertility treatment, a difficult pregnancy and a complicated birth,” she said.

“I really wanted to win this seat – I grew up here, went to school here and live here now. I wanted to win for my neighbours and my community because they deserve better. I am so desperately sorry that this has happened but would like to sincerely thank everyone who worked so hard for me and Labour in Chingford & Woodford Green.”

Shaheen, a visiting professor at the LSE and author of ‘Know Your Place’, also highlighted how she had secured Labour’s highest ever share of the vote in Chingford and Woodford Green, and had since been ” knocking on doors every weekend for over a year, right through my pregnancy”.

READ MORE: Rayner: ‘I don’t think there’s any reason why Diane Abbott shouldn’t stand as MP’

She added that despite having a c-section, she “came back out campaigning with my newborn as soon as the doctors signed me off, taking up voter’s concerns and winning the argument for a Labour government nationally”.

She said she had been interviewed by a party panel over social media posts, with some dating back as far as 2014 before she joined the party, and some relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Shaheen said her stance on the conflict was that she had both “immediately condemned” Hamas’ October attack and backed a ceasefire, with starving children “not responsible for the actions of terrorists”, and that she had worked hard to persuade voters locally to back Labour despite their anger at the party’s stance.

Shaheen told BBC Newsnight she did not remember liking one tweet, but said it “plays into a trope” about Israel and she was sorry.

The Jewish Labour Movement has previously said it received complaints about tweets by Shaheen over Israel. The party has not said publicly what the tweets related to.

Starmer rejected the idea he was blocking left-wingers when asked on Thursday, and said he wanted “the highest quality candidates”.

Labour was not immediately available for comment.

READ MORE: Selections drama as Waugh and Starmer allies Akehurst and Simons picked but Russell-Moyle and Shaheen out

Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

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