Wales politics

Suspended Lib Dem candidate quits party

Paul Halliday
Image caption Paul Halliday had been pegged to stand in council elections in Newport in May

A suspended Liberal Democrat candidate in Newport has resigned from the party and accused them of treating him as "guilty until proven innocent".

Paul Halliday claimed the Lib Dems have told him nothing about allegations leading to his suspension this month.

The former church minister said he had given evidence to fraud police that text messages were falsely sent in his name, as if they came from his phone.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said it was looking into his claims.

The Lib Dems have declined to comment.

Mr Halliday stood as Lib Dem candidate for Newport East at the 2015 general election and the 2016 assembly poll, and was due to stand for Newport council at the local elections in May.

He said his resignation meant he would not be at a party hearing into the allegations scheduled for 28 January.

The details of the claims against him have not been formally revealed.

The Lib Dems said at the time of his suspension that an internal investigation was under way.

'In limbo'

Mr Halliday told BBC Wales he had seen evidence of fake text messages sent in his name in a "very sophisticated" and "obviously... deliberate act by someone to disparage me".

He announced he had left the Lib Dems on a politics podcast he takes part in called The Three Muckrakers.

The ex-minister at the Newport Church of Christ told the podcast that he quit the party because he was not willing to be "in limbo" for months while the claims were investigated.

"The truth is that I have been treated by the party as guilty until proven innocent," he said.

"It feels like a kangaroo court. The priority is finding out who has stolen my identity. I have more important things to do with my life."

Mr Halliday, who works for a property management company, claimed the suspension resulted from an anonymous letter sent to the press.

But he added: "I've not been told what the allegations are still. So from a party point of view I'm still in a black hole".

He stressed that the party was right to "protect itself" by investigating the allegations, but he criticised what he called a lack of support from the Lib Dems.

Mr Halliday said the experience had been "tough" but people who knew him had "rallied around".

'Being assessed'

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau - which is the national policing lead organisation for fraud - told BBC Wales that it received information from Mr Halliday on 12 January which was "currently in the process of being assessed".

His suspension has been handled by the Lib Dems at a UK level.

Neither they nor the Welsh Lib Dems would comment on whether the hearing on 28 January will go ahead.

Gwent Police said it was also unable to comment.

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