Joe Pike,Political Investigations Correspondent

PA Media Darren RodwellPA Media

A Labour candidate said he asked police not to respond if they were contacted by a resident he was planning to confront at their home.

Council leader Darren Rodwell claimed he used official systems to find the address of the person who had threatened him online.

“I found out where the person lived,” he told a podcast, “because I have the ways and means – so I used them.”

He added: “My office phoned the police up and said the leader wants to let you know: ‘Don’t worry if you get a call from this address’.”

Cllr Rodwell is Labour’s general election candidate in Barking and the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council. It is unclear if he confronted the person at their home.

‘To have me taken out’

Mr Rodwell and the Labour Party have not responded to requests for comment.

Cllr Rodwell said the incident in 2022 was prompted by the setting up of a Facebook page which aimed “to have me taken out”.

A few weeks later, he told the legal firm Mishcon De Reya’s “Property She” podcast: “I approached the police and they said: ‘Oh there’s nothing we can do, it’s not a direct threat.’”

“I found out where the person lived because you know I have the ways and means so, I used them.

“And so I phoned, or my office phoned the police up and said the leader wants to let you know, don’t worry if you get a phone call from this address.

“But it’s only him going round there asking why they think they could do a [Facebook] page to have him taken out.”

Cllr Rodwell also recounted how, in a separate incident, he chased two men down the street with a baseball bat after they attacked his home.

The Data Protection Act means there are strict rules for how personal details like addresses can be obtained, including within local government.

The Metropolitan Police have declined to comment.

Left-wing Labour campaign group Momentum has called for Mr Rodwell to be removed as a candidate.

“Darren Rodwell’s position as a Labour candidate is completely untenable”, a spokesperson said.

“If Labour’s commitment to progressive values and proper processes means anything, he must be removed. Anything less would be an insult to the people of Barking.”

‘Worst tan’ comments

Darren Rodwell is seen as one of Labour’s rising stars but has made headlines in recent years for a string of gaffes.

In 2022 he publicly apologised after saying he had the “worst tan possible for a black man” at a Black History Month event.

The BBC has since discovered he privately dismissed criticism of the comments as being “part of a smear campaign” against him.

Despite apologising for what he called “extremely stupid and embarrassing” comments, a leaked email appears to show Cllr Rodwell playing down the remarks when confronted by a constituent.

“What I can tell you [is] it was part of a smear campaign against me”, he wrote.

A Labour spokesperson said the party had “dealt with this matter at the time in line with its rules and procedures”.

“Darren Rodwell offered an unreserved apology for these remarks when the video was first circulated in 2022,” the spokesperson added.

At an event marking Black History Month, he told the audience: “You might have noticed that I’ve got the worst tan possible for a black man.”

Wearing a kufi, a hat traditional in parts of Africa, he added: “But I have the passion and the rhythm of the African and the Caribbean. I used to do swing dance, because I used to love jiggling about.”

Labour investigated Mr Rodwell, and cleared him after an interview by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

A Labour party spokesperson said after the investigation: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Fighting the BNP

Darren Rodwell is credited with playing a central role in campaigning against Nick Griffin, the leader of the far-right British National Party, in Barking at the 2010 election.

He was subject to death threats and recounted “someone putting a Stanley knife to my throat when I was going to the toilet” at the election count.

More recently, he attracted criticism for hanging a “Darren Rodwell for Barking” banner on some gravestones.

He said at the time that he “wasn’t being disrespectful” and the banner was there temporarily while his team were fetching more straps.

The council leader also made headlines after threatening to evict housing tenants who did not report knife crime. He later said his comments had been “sensationalised to make me sound like I was some sort of Mussolini”.

In the past five and a half years, Mr Rodwell has received more than £20,000 in gifts and hospitality.

This includes £12,448 in West Ham tickets and hospitality from a single construction firm after they secured permission to build film studios in the area.

Mr Rodwell strongly denied any suggestion he had pushed through the deals in expectation that he would be treated by the studio companies.

“All the major deals were done before they got the box and planning is different to what I can do, I am the executive,” he told The Guardian.

Other candidates in the Barking constituency include Simon Anthony of the Green Party, Liberal Democrat Charley Hasted, Reform UK’s Clive Peacock and Hamid Shah for the Workers Party.

A full list of candidates will be available on the BBC News website after nominations close.



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