Greens launch investigation after former deputy leader candidate’s father convicted for child rape

Equalities spokesperson and deputy candidate appointed father as election agent after he had been charged with multiple offences.

The Green Party of England & Wales have launched a ‘full investigation’ after a deputy leadership candidate’s father and election agent was convicted of raping and torturing a 10 year old girl. 

Equalities spokesperson Aimee Challenor stood down from the deputy leadership race on Sunday, when it was revealed she had appointed her father as her election agent in this year’s local elections – after he had been charged with crimes including false imprisonment, rape, and sexual assault.

The house where the crimes took place was the family home, and the base for Coventry Green Party until the weekend.

Mr Challenor was first charged in November 2016, the BBC reported. However, the party say they were not informed or aware of the charges until Mr Challenor was convicted last week.

Aimee was seen as a ‘rising star’ in the party, and has written for the Guardian and Huffington Post on trans issues.

In a statement over the weekend, Aimee Challenor said she was ‘disgusted’ by the events, and was sorry for appointing her father as her agent:

“His crimes are abhorrent. Of that there is no uncertainty. In light of the revelations about my father’s despicable behaviour, and because of the impact my role has on my family and the survivors of my father’s criminal behaviour I have decided to step aside in the Green Party Deputy Leadership race.

“I do not want the Deputy leadership election to be dominated by what my father has done. I do not want my relationship with him to damage the Green Party, and I want to ensure the focus stays firmly on the good work that the Party is doing.”

Challenor claims she did not know the ‘full extent’ of the crimes her father committed until conviction.

However, Aimee Challenor has been a Trustee of Coventry Pride since at least January 2016.

After it emerged that David Challenor volunteered for the charity in 2015 and 2016, Coventry Pride released a statement on Tuesday saying Trustees were made aware of criminal proceedings in late 2016:

“The Trustees were made aware of criminal proceedings being taken against Mr Challenor in November 2016.

“A directive was issued to those responsible for volunteer recruitment that Mr Challenor was not to be accepted as a volunteer at the Charity’s events and if he attended public events organised by the Charity he was monitored by the trustees. Mr Challenor no longer has any links with the Charity.”

A former party worker said spokespeople were asked to declare anything that could bring the party into disrepute when they were appointed in 2016.

Some Green party figures have questioned Aimee Challenor’s judgement, both in appointing her father as agent and failing to inform the party of the charges he faced.

Richmond councillor Andree Frieze said on Twitter: “I hope the victim will be able to recover from these horrendous experiences and am thankful she was brave enough to speak out. I am deeply concerned about Aimee Challenor’s lack of judgment regarding David Challenor.”

A party staffer told this site: “If this was happening with any other party then we would be calling for resignations. Instead we are ‘supporting’…the individuals concerned.”

The Young Greens – of which Aimee is a member – and the Young Liberals (the youth branch of the Lib Dems) offered her their ‘solidarity‘, arguing some had used the issue to promote transphobia.

An initial statement from the Greens offered the party’s ‘support’ for Aimee Challenor. However this was soon replaced with a statement noting the upcoming investigation.

Ms Challenor is currently ‘on a break’ from official Green Party roles, although the party refused to be drawn on whether she has been officially suspended.

Co-leader Caroline Lucas rebutted claims that Ms Challenor is still working with the party – as one tweet by Ms Challenor had suggested – and called for full and independent investigation:

A Green Party spokesperson told Left Foot Forward the party is investigating its internal processes, ahead of possible disciplinary action:

“Following the sentencing of David Challenor for abhorrent sexual crimes against a minor, the Green party is urgently investigating its internal processes as a first step towards understanding the circumstances surrounding his role as an election agent, any internal failings which are identified and any disciplinary action which may be appropriate.

“The process will be independent and as it is ongoing we will not be providing further details at this time. It will be robust, fair and it will be based on due process. We do not currently have a timeline for its conclusion.”

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

Left Foot Forward will be covering the Green Party election results when they are announced around the start of September.

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