THE MAYOR of Barnet is being investigated by police over allegations that he broke electoral law by making an angry phone call to an independent candidate.
Linda Edwards, who is standing as an independent candidate in Edgware under the Residents’ Association of Barnet (RAB) banner, says she received an “intimidating” phone call from Councillor Brian Coleman last Wednesday.
She reported the incident on Monday and police have confirmed they are investigating whether an offence has been committed under electoral law. Cllr Coleman has refused to comment on the allegations.
The London Assembly member was censured by a standards hearing last year for sending an email from his council account to a blogger calling him an “obsessive, poisonous individual”.
Mrs Edwards is an honorary chief executive of The Larches, a charity for people with learning disabilities, which Cllr Coleman chose as one of his Mayor's charities for his year in office.
He is also named as a patron on the charity’s website, while Esther Rantzen, Sir Trevor McDonald and Felicity Kendal are all listed among the celebrity friends.
Mrs Edwards claims that during the phone conversation on Wednesday evening, Cllr Coleman said the charity “will suffer after the election” because of her candidacy and added it is “now open season for everyone to have a knock at you and The Larches will suffer”.
She told the Times Series: “We’re one of his charities and I have been to one of his committee meeting every month for the last year.
“He seems to think he’s above everything and just because we’re his charity he can dictate to us.
“After the call I felt he was trying to get me to pull out and not stand for the council. I was so worried by the threats he made about the charity and me.”
Mrs Edwards said Cllr Coleman phoned Larches chairman Howard Lanning the following evening and repeated the same information to him. Mr Lanning has been unavailable for comment.
She is standing for the independent group because of problems with the council’s social services department in helping her daughter, who has learning disabilities.
However, during the conversation she says Cllr Coleman warned her she will not be able to have “anything to do with social services” and “the officers won't talk to you”.
She said: “I'm standing as an independent candidate, it’s hardly a crime. It’s not like we’re living in some country where we cannot challenge the dictator, this is a democracy. He said we would be embarrassed and only get a few votes, but even if that does happen I will not see it as an embarrassment, and it doesn’t make me want to stop.”
RAB is fielding 14 candidates across the borough, although none are standing against Cllr Coleman for the Totteridge seat he has held since 1998.
Cllr Coleman told the Times Series: “I do not recall a phone call and I’m not making any comments.”