Messages seen by Left Foot Forward show that party figures were informed spokesperson Aimee Challenor's father was facing prosecution, contrary to an initial statement from the party.
Pictured: Former Green Party Equalities Spokesperson and deputy leadership candidate Aimee Challenor.
The Green Party were informed that now-convicted rapist David Challenor had been charged with sexual offences at the end of 2016, according to correspondence seen by Left Foot Forward.
Then-Green Party External Coordinations Coordinator Matt Hawkins and then-party Chair Clare Lorraine Phipps were told by former Equalities Spokesperson Aimee Challenor in November 2016 that her father – a Green activist – had been charged with sexual offences.
David Challenor was convicted last month of raping and torturing a 10 year old girl in the family home – then Coventry Green Party’s registered address.
The messages from Aimee Challenor did not state that her father was active in the party. Speaking to Left Foot Forward, Matt Hawkins says he did not know David Challenor was a member.
The Green Party expelled D. Challenor, and launched an independent investigation into how he was able to be appointed an election agent by Aimee Challenor in the 2017 General Election – and again in this year’s local elections – long after he was charged. D. Challenor had continued to be a party member until he was finally convicted.
An initial statement from the Green Party – since deleted – said ‘the Green Party was not aware of any of these allegations until the case concluded’. Aimee Challenor said she did not know the ‘full details’ of the charges against her father when she appointed him her election agent.
Both Hawkins and Phipps – who are in a relationship – say the party’s press team were informed that charges had been made against a spokesperson’s family member, but no action was taken. D. Challenor continued to be active in the party and serve as an election agent for both his wife Tina and for daughter Aimee, who both stood in this year’s local elections.
After being suspended on a ‘no fault basis’ during the investigation, Aimee Challenor resigned from the party earlier this week. The trans activist accused the party of promoting transphobia, after former co-leader Caroline Lucas agreed to meet figures from Women’s Place UK – the main platform for those opposing self-identification under proposed new Gender Recognition Act legislation.
Left Foot Forward has seen messages from Aimee Challenor to both Matt Hawkins and Clare Lorraine Phipps, which show she did inform party figures that a close relative had been charged with serious offences.
It is unclear why staff and senior figures do not appear to have been aware that David Challenor was a member – an issue which is likely to be at the heart of the investigation.
Hawkins believes Ms Challenor has been ‘scapegoated’ by some in the party for what are alleged organisational failings.
Matt Hawkins, former External Coordinations Coordinator of the Green Party, told LFF:
“As External Communications Coordinator in November 2016 Aimee approached me and told me that her father was under investigation by the police.
“At the time she was not informed of the exact details of the offences, only that they were sexual in nature. I informed the press team that should they be contacted by a journalist regarding proceedings against a family member of one of our spokespeople they should come to me for more information.
“I did not raise it any further than that because I did not know that Aimee’s dad was a member. Since Aimee’s father was found guilty, I have told three members of staff at the party that she had informed me when he was first arrested and it is entirely false to claim otherwise.
“I am no longer External Communications Coordinator or Senior Communications Manager at the party as I later became but I would like to put on record that Aimee Challenor was one of the most inspiring, compassionate, and professional of all the people I ever worked with in the party.
“I have been gravely disappointed by the treatment that she has received from the party that she contributed so much to at a time when her life has been turned upside down and it is a grave loss to that party that she has been forced out.”
However, previous Green Party communications staffers have said they have no memory of being informed about offences relating to a member of Aimee Challenor’s family in 2016.
One former staffer told LFF that as a Green Party executive member it would have been Matt Hawkins’ responsibility to escalate the issue.
On Friday, Clare Lorraine Phipps, now Acting Chair & Secretary of internal organisation Green Party Women, released a statement saying:
“The Green Party has been at the forefront of work against male violence against women, and we would like to add our thoughts first to the survivors of Mr. Challenor’s horrific crimes and secondly to Aimee and her family who now have to come to terms with the different, subtler abuse meted to them…
“What little information Aimee had about the charges she shared with the Party at that time, as is now fully apparent. We call for any subsequent statements by the Party to publicly acknowledge this. How this information was not retained by the Party will hopefully become clear & lessons learnt in the investigation.
“We hope the Party will apologise for the distress these omissions have caused Aimee, that the investigation will be swift and fair, and that it will continue to stand by her in the face of the horrific transphobia she is facing online.
“Alongside Green Party politicians, we will continue to fight the cuts to children’s mental health and services for women and girls who have experienced male violence, and send our strongest hope that the survivors are receiving the support that they need.”
Supporting the investigation, the Green Party’s elections coordinator Judy Maciejowska told LFF she had ‘every faith in the party leadership that drew this up’:
“It’s a good organisation working on this, with very clear terms of reference, and it will be made public. There are an awful lot of things they have to sort out. It will be more satisfactory if It is done properly. There’s a vileness to this whole thing…
“This has been a roller-coaster that hopefully we’re able to ride through. I hope we come out of it more robust, more transparent while less open to infiltration.”
Aimee Challenor told this site:
“I am disappointed that the Green Party failed to clarify that I informed [them of the charges] in 2016, and that they allowed myths to form that I hid the issue from the party…
“In August I apologised for appointing my father as my Election agent. It is for GPRC [Green Party Regional Council] to answer for why they chose to suspend me for allegedly not telling the party when the evidence shows I did [Ed: The suspension was on a ‘no fault’ basis]. I’ll be continuing to work with Veritas investigators whilst they get to the bottom of this.”
The party’s ‘holistic review’ of structures will be debated at the upcoming autumn conference.
The Green Party told this site it would not comment while the independent investigation was underway, and referred LFF to the latest statement:
“The Green Party takes its safeguarding responsibilities and duties of care extremely seriously. The investigation will identify the facts as well as where failures occurred so that the party can learn any lessons needed and take the appropriate and necessary action.
“The terms of reference for the investigation are publicly available. The Green Party will not be commenting any further on the investigation while it is active.”
The investigation is expected to conclude in November.
Note: This article was amended on 6th September to clarify that Mr. Hawkins says the press team were informed that a spokesperson’s family member (not Aimee Challenor’s specifically) was facing charges.