25th Jun, 2022

Green Party failed to probe Coventry child rapist acting as election agent

Felix Nobes 16th Jan, 2019 Updated: 16th Jan, 2019

THE GREEN Party failed to respond appropriately when chiefs were told a Coventry election agent was convicted of horrific sex crimes against a child, an investigation has found.

Former Greens equalities spokesperson Aimee Challenor had been a candidate for the deputy leadership of the party until she pulled out of the race before she was suspended in August.

The one-time prospective city MP denied having full knowledge of the extreme crimes of her father, David, who previously acted as her election agent.

The Green Party launched a probe into how Mr Challenor was allowed to work for the party after being charged with 22 serious offences in 2016.

The 50-year-old was jailed for 22 years in August after being found guilty of torturing and raping a young girl in the attic of his Coventry home.

An independent investigator Verita, hired by the Greens, published its findings last week.

It concluded that appointing Mr Challenor was a serious safeguarding risk.

The report states Ms Challenor made a ‘serious error of judgement’ by appointing her father and not making explicitly clear to the local and national party the crimes leveled against him.

Investigators found that Ms Challenor had only notified the party in a brief and informal Facebook message in 2016 to two members of the party national executive.

The message made reference to her father being charged, adding “it is my understanding that the majority of them were sexual offences”.

But crucially the report states she made no reference to Mr Challenor being a member of the party, and then appointed her father on three separate occasions despite his charges.

The report recommends the Green Party change its code of conduct to make clear what should be reported.

It said it should also update its safeguarding policies, primarily the protocol for reporting issues.

It claims representatives were more concerned with protecting the reputation of the party than exposing its link to David Challenor.

The two members of the party executive, Matt Hawkins and Clare Phillips, were found to have not followed up effectively on the message sent from Aimee, and did not ask appropriate questions about the charges.

It also questioned whether West Midlands Police should have informed the Green Party of Mr Challenor’s charges.

The report states: “Prioritising the safety of children and vulnerable people is an individual responsibility of every member of society. There could hardly be a bigger ‘red flag’ in this respect than someone being charged with 22 sexual offences.

“Irrespective of where the responsibility lies, one of the effects of the way this case was handled was that someone who had

committed serious sexual offences was given roles of responsibility within the Green Party during a period of almost two years after a major safeguarding risk should have been apparent.”

A Green Party spokesperson said: “The Green Party accepts all recommendations offered by the report, and is taking immediate action to make the changes necessary to implement them.

“We deeply regret that this situation arose and we apologise unreservedly for any concerns that this will have caused and any safeguarding risks it may have given rise to.”

Aimee Challenor said: “Thankfully there is no evidence that anyone was close to harm as a result of their contact with the Green Party. My thoughts continue to be with those my father caused harm.

“I think it is, without a doubt, important to stress that the burden of reporting was, in fact, upon my father, not me. The fact that I was the only person who took any action on reporting this to the party is to my credit.

“I made a full apology in August for my error in appointing my father my election agent. I stand by my apology.”

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