St Helens Whatsapp claims: Councillors 'told to apologise'

Barrie Grunewald Image copyright St Helens Council
Image caption Mr Grunewald called the allegations against him "spurious"

The Labour Party has ordered five councillors to apologise over allegations that private WhatsApp chats were leaked.

Police investigated a "possible data breach" by St Helens councillors in 2018, which prompted the council leader to resign, but no charges were brought.

However, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said a Labour inquiry found the party were not happy with the councillors' behaviour.

The five have declined to comment.

The LDRS reported the chats were alleged to have contained derogatory comments about other Labour members, which were then captured via screenshot and made into hard copies to be distributed to Labour councillors in the run-up to the local elections in May 2018.

After being suspended by the party over the claims, Mr Grunewald said "spurious allegations" had been levelled against him.

The investigation was dropped by police in June 2018 and his suspension was subsequently lifted.

However, an internal Labour inquiry, which concluded in January, found while the councillors involved, including Mr Grunewald, had not breached the code of conduct, they should write a letter of apology.

A spokesman for Labour's North West group said it "does not comment on internal matters".

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