UK

Respect Bradford Councillors Resign And Demand Apology From George Galloway

16/08/2013 12:54 BST

Five Respect councillors have resigned and demanded an apology from George Galloway amid allegations he accused them of trying to "sabotage the party".

In a statement, the group said the accusations were “symptomatic of a culture within the party that seeks to marginalise and excommunicate members that raise legitimate concerns”.

george galloway

The councillors have demanded an apology from Bradford West MP George Galloway

The resignations follow two of the five councillors being suspended earlier this week after criticising Galloway's keenness to run for London mayor.

Ishtiaq Ahmed and Mohammad Shabbir, who represent wards in Bradford, were suspended on Tuesday with immediate effect, following an interview with the Guardian when the pair criticised the Bradford West MP.

In the article, the group said Galloway should step down as an MP if he puts himself forward for the 2016 London mayoral election.

In response to the article, Galloway accused the councillors of "destabilising the party."

The pair have since denied the allegations and the group of city councillors have said they will sit as independents until Galloway says sorry.

In the joint statement, the group revealed they would resign from the party altogether if an apology is not forthcoming.

A party spokesman responded saying their "antics" show a "thirst for prominence".

In a statement, councillors Alyas Karmani, Ruqayyah Collector and Faisal Khan, together with Mr Ahmed and Mr Shabbir, said they were "united as a group in objecting to the very serious allegations."

They said: "As a group of councillors we categorically refute the assertion that any one of our group has in any way tried to sabotage the party.

"We are united as a group in objecting to the very serious allegation that 'councillors who have openly connived with the Khans in destabilising the party in Bradford'.

"This allegation is defamatory, baseless and completely unfounded and is symptomatic of a culture within the party that seeks to marginalise and excommunicate party members that raise legitimate concerns in relation to the operation and future development of the Respect Party in Bradford.

The group concluded their statement by demanding the two councillors be publicly exonerated, have their suspensions revoked and "the baseless and false allegations about them are retracted."