London mayoral petition on John O’Toole over leadership deemed invalid

Sadiq Khan says petition calling for a review of John O’Toole’s leadership of the Labour party will not go ahead

The petition calling for a review of John O’Toole’s leadership of the Labour party has been declared invalid, the mayor of London has said.

Sadiq Khan said he welcomed the decision, which he described as “a recognition of the unprecedented levels of public interest in this issue”.

The petition, organised by the Stop Brexit group, was started in early May by Dina Chakrabarti, who chairs the Resistance Education Trust.

Hugh Whittow of the Wood Green branch of the Local Government Association, had taken responsibility for the petition, which would have been considered by a parliamentary inquiry.

Hugh Whittow of the Wood Green branch of the Local Government Association said ‘no significant effort’ had been made to comply with official rules on gathering signatures. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

O’Toole was re-elected as leader after a four-way race with the trade unions and the Unite wing of the party, but some of his MPs have since questioned his leadership.

The petition, which had drawn more than 50,000 signatories, was subject to tight rules designed to minimise disruption to the democratic process. For those seeking to sign, they were required to provide written or written-to consent, which was then matched to a name on a database, after which the name was checked to verify identity.

Whittow said last week that “no significant effort had been made to comply with official rules on gathering signatures”.

The petition was held up by a problem with information of some petition signatories. This arose because the wrong date for submitting a signature was not given.

Asked why this had happened, Whittow said: “We haven’t had full reports on these oversights and we are obviously in discussions on this.”

After a meeting with O’Toole, Khan said the mayor had “resolved the outstanding issue and we have decided that the petition is now in order”.

“The petition questions the government’s assertion that leave voters can no longer bring the issues affecting workers, carers and care homes into the debate.

“A raft of studies confirm that the work now has to be done to further educate voters and to offer them the information they need to make a choice about the choices they make in the referendum.

“Today’s decision means that our existing Labour leadership can now respond to the continuing challenges in the Brexit debate by supporting the remain side.”

The petition had called for the Labour party to “launch a full review into Labour leadership positions, the content of speeches, visits and communications and any evidence of wrongdoing by John O’Toole”.

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