Nominations open for Merton Council by-election after resignation of former election candidate Imran Uddin
A former general election candidate and Merton Labour councillor stepped down amid an investigation into his law firm, triggering a by-election in St Helier ward.
Merton Council confirmed councillor Imran Uddin’s resignation and the July 20 date for the by-election.
The nomination process for St Helier candidates opened on Friday and will end at 4pm on June 23.
Mr Uddin, 37, was Labour’s candidate for Wimbledon in the June 8 general election but lost to Conservative incumbent Stephen Hammond.
Mr Uddin received 18,324 votes compared to Mr Hammond’s 23,946 votes, but Mr Uddin more than halved Mr Hammond’s previous majority of 12,619 in the 2015 general election to 5,622.
This was despite the closure of the Morden law firm, where Mr Uddin is a partner, by the Solicitors Regulation Authority on May 18.
An SRA spokeperson said: “There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mr Uddin in connection with in his practice as a solicitor.”
The SRA also found reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Muzammil Hussain, another partner at the firm.
Mr Uddin said last week that he is appealing the SRA’s investigation.
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, leader of Merton Conservative group, said: “I am shocked and disappointed to learn that a Merton councillor and the former Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon is under investigation for dishonest conduct.
“Clearly he has felt it necessary to resign whilst due process is followed and I would not wish to comment on his personal conduct whilst the investigation is underway.”
She said the process is underway to select a candidate for the by-election and thinks the Conservative St Helier candidate will be announced next week.
She added: “We’re looking to try to increase our number and to hold Labour to account for their actions.”
Anthony Fairclough of Merton Lib Dems said he thinks a candidate will be chosen over the weekend.
He said: “Our candidate will be looking to hold Merton Council to account on issues such as social care cuts, education and affordable housing.”
He mentioned the Labour-led council’s history of proposing cuts to adult social care services, as well as unwillingness to raise extra cash for social care by increasing council tax.
Mr Fairclough said: “That is one of many decisions by Merton Council showing not a great attitude on an issue which for us is one of the most important things a council does.”
Wimbledon Labour were unable to be reached for comment.