Labour whip in the dock after beating his wife

Admin (03 December, 2015) Crime

Walworth councillor given community order after guilty plea

6879Dan Garfield has been sentenced to a community order after beating his wife

A senior Labour councillor has resigned after he was convicted in court of assaulting his wife, smashing the glasses off her face and leaving her with a bloodied lip.

Walworth councillor, Dan Garfield, hung his head in the dock at Camberwell magistrate’s court on Tuesday morning as his tearful estranged wife, also a Southwark Labour councillor, read out her own victim statement.

As Southwark Labour’s chief whip, responsible for keeping party members in line, Mr Garfield’s departure has left the group in turmoil, triggering the third by-election since its sweep to victory in May last year.

The court heard harrowing details of how on the night of November 8 this year Mr Garfield had attempted to slit his wrists, leading to a confrontation between him and his wife. Mr Garfield struck her twice across the face, and also stood on her feet and pulled her hair.

As his wife bravely read out her witness statement to the court she recalled how she felt when she waited for the police outside their shared home in Boundary Lane, Walworth.

“I was humiliated when the police came to our flat and I felt like a failure. Standing outside bare foot in my pyjamas in the middle of the night, I felt like you had made a fool out of me,” she said.

“I replay the events over and over in my head,” she continued, “…it hurts every single day.”

She spoke about her determination to keep attending council meetings but said this had become impossible when Mr Garfield insisted on turning up when he knew she would be there. “[it] left me very exposed. Facing our friends and colleagues, I’ve been placed every day in a vulnerable position,” she said.

In sentencing Mr Garfield, Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser said: “The nature of the assault is serious because you struck the victim twice in the face, which is a particularly vulnerable part of the body, so hard that you caused her lip to bleed and her glasses to be damaged…” adding that she would also need to take account of a previous incident last year in which Mr Garfield received a police caution for another assault on his wife

The court heard how Mr Garfield has been seeing a psychotherapist to address the underlying causes of his behaviour before he was sentenced to a twelve month community order. He will be required to complete a programme of 40 days with the probation service and pay £430 to the court, including £130 to be refunded to his wife to pay for her broken glasses.

In the light of his conviction and his subsequent resignation, Mr Garfield has been suspended from the Labour Group and is now the subject of an investigation by them to see if he is fit to continue as a party member.

“Domestic violence is not acceptable and we will not tolerate it,” said Cllr Peter John, Southwark Council Leader. “It is right that Dan Garfield has accepted responsibility and resigned from the council.”

Asked why Mr Garfield was awarded a position of such high authority within the party after the first police caution for assaulting his fellow Labour councillor wife, Cllr John said: “When I was made aware of a police caution I offered my full support to [Mr Garfield’s wife].  Following this discussion, and assurances that they were both receiving necessary support, I felt it was right to allow those involved to deal with this as a private family matter.”

kathapollitt says:

So beating your wife is a private family matter?

Prem Goyal says:

After reading that Labour Councillor Dan Garfield has resigned, we are shocked that for the third time in less than nine months a Southwark Labour councillor, for various reasons, has left before completing a full term. In this most recent instance it was right that Mr Garfield, after being found guilty of beating his wife, resigned from the Council. This is, however, of little consolation to Southwark residents who will foot the bill for yet another costly by-election.

Labour pride themselves on their ‘rigorous selection process to ensure we [Labour] have the highest quality candidates’ (Labour spokesperson, Southwark News 13 June 2013) but these frequent resignations prove that Southwark Labour is not vetting candidates properly and that their selection process is completely compromised. Labour has let down Southwark residents by allowing unfit and below par candidates to be put forward as their representatives.

Once again Southwark residents are faced with the consequences of yet another by-election. Those living in Faraday Ward can expect to be troubled and have their valuable time to be taken away from them in the coming weeks with more literature to read and countless canvassers troubling them at their doors.

We can discourage councillors from reneging on their four year commitment by penalising them and their party when they trigger a needless by-election. First, the party, in this case Labour, not residents, should meet the cost of this by-election in its entirety instead of the council using taxpayers’ hard earned money. Second, councillors who prematurely end their term should also return the money that they have earned for the last 12 months through their councillorship to the ward they represent to compensate residents.

Councillors and their parties must recognise that this is a job akin to having a four year
contract with the public, who they are directly accountable to. If they stand down during their term, they are dishonouring this contract. This is precisely the reason why voters are increasingly uninterested and disillusioned with the electoral process. Why should we bother voting for a candidate if they won’t finish a full term they committed to? Such penalties will act as a deterrent to others thinking of wasting taxpayers’ money and residents’ precious time.

Prem Goyal OBE JP, All People’s Party

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