22nd Nov, 2019

FRONT PAGE: EXCLUSIVE: LGBTQ+ activist Aimee Challenor no longer in Liberal Democrats post amid probe into sick tweets

Les Reid 7th Nov, 2019 Updated: 8th Nov, 2019

OUR FRONT PAGE exclusive investigation (turning inside) this week, updated from earlier web version.

By Les Reid. Additional research by John Carlon

THE LIBERAL Democrats say transgender activist Aimee Challenor no longer has a role in Coventry after the national party launched an investigation into serious new allegations and safeguarding concerns, we can exclusively reveal.

But the party refused to clarify in response to our further questions, saying its internal procedures are confidential.

One local party source we approached told us she had been “suspended” pending an outcome of the investigation by national officials.

Coventry’s LGBTQ+ youth group Prism is also facing questions concerning her ongoing role, including as vice-chair of its management committee.

Last year, the one-time prospective Coventry MP resigned from the Green Party which had launched an investigation into why her father David Challenor had been her election agent when he was facing charges of child rape.

David Challenor, then 50, was jailed for 22 years in August last year after being found guilty of torturing and raping a young girl in the attic of his Coventry home. In 2017, Aimee denied having previous ‘full knowledge’ of his horrific crimes.

The recent allegations concern postings on a social media account of a man Ms Challenor says she is engaged to – who we have decided not to name.

The Coventry Observer has decided not to publish the tweets sent in formal complaints to the Lib Dems, or other internet postings among them and their social circle, which have been challenged publicly on internet forums.

One string of tweets on his account includes the poster admitting to having sexual fantasies involving children.

The Twitter account has been removed from public view, but screengrabs remain.

In response to our questions to the Liberal Democrats nationally and party leader Jo Swinson MP, its head of media Rosy Cobb emailed us to say: “Aimee was previously a diversity officer in the Coventry party. It would not be appropriate for Jo’s office to comment on this matter though I am afraid.”

An earlier email on October 17 from Ms Swinson to one complainant, campaigner Katherine Denkinson – seen by the Coventry Observer – stated: “We take seriously any suggestion of this nature.

“We have received some similar complaints to yours with the same screenshots from Twitter from July of this year. On receiving them we put the issue into immediate investigation and we are awaiting the outcome of that.

“I have forwarded your complaint to our Standards Officer to ensure that it is part of the same investigation.

“We do not have an office in Coventry and Aimee Challenor does not have any role within the party.”

Yet the Coventry Liberal Democrats website continues to state Ms Challenor is on Coventry Liberal Democrats’ ‘executive committee’ and is a ‘diversity officer’.

National officials refused to clarify matters in response to our further questions, including whether the investigation had concluded.

Ms Cobb suggested Ms Challenor had been given the role of ‘diversity officer’ for Coventry Liberal Democrats in a voluntary capacity.

Ms Challenor’s disgraced father was her election agent during the general election in 2017 in which she stood to be Green Party MP in Coventry South.

He was also her agent during her campaign in the local council elections in May last year.

An independent Verita inquiry financed by the Green Party found in January this year that Ms Challenor had made a ‘serious error of judgement’ hiring her father on three separate occasions after he was charged. She had resigned from the Green Party last year, accusing it of ‘transphobia’, after it had suspended her pending investigation.

Ms Challenor was born in Coventry and grew up in the family home in the city.

MS CHALLENOR RESPONDS

Ms Challenor, aged 22, told us tonight her partner’s Twitter account had been hacked, adding: “The tweets that were purported to appear on my partner’s account were not his thoughts or opinions.

“He deleted the tweets as soon as he could. Because they are under investigation, I cannot comment to much on him.

“In terms of my role within the Liberal Democrats, you are right there has been a confidential investigation. It’s been going on since July.

“It was due to conclude shortly but they have had to apply an extension to that because of the forthcoming general election.

“Even if I found out tomorrow that I was allowed back into the Liberal Democrats, I would not be campaigning for the Liberal Democrats.

“I’ve long been planning a holiday and will be going on holiday in a few weeks. I will not be in the country for the election.

“I have today been at Coventry central police regarding harassment and malicious communications.”

She added her partner was a USA resident and would not be making comment.

PRISM

Prism has told campaigners its volunteers including Ms Challenor are subject to safeguarding policies and procedures, which it had adjusted following the Verita report’s recommendations.

It added Ms Challenor’s partner had never had any involvement in any form with Prism LGBTQ+ and had not attended any sessions or activities.

It added: “For many years Prism LGBTQ+ has provided a valuable support service to the young people of Coventry and the surrounding area, many of whom have to deal with bullying and harassment simply for being who they are.

“The success of our group is due in no small part to the hard-work and dedication of our volunteers who give up their free time to help and support the young people. The feedback we have received not just from the young people but also their parents, guardians and carers is overwhelmingly positive with particular emphasis on how attending Prism has helped many young people with their confidence and self-esteem.”

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