UCKG supporter's complaint against councillor was 'not credible' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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UCKG supporter's complaint against Waltham Forest councillor was 'not credible'
A religious group behind controversial proposals to convert a former cinema has defended a supporter who alleged that a councillor insulted his church - despite a council panel concluded his claims were not credible.
Victor Akutu made a formal complaint against Conservative leader Cllr Matt Davis over allegations he insulted the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) after a planning meeting.
The UCKG's bid to convert former EMD building in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, into a place of worship was rejected by councillors, including Cllr Davis, at the meeting back in September.
Mr Akutu accused Cllr Davis of linking the church with the notorious murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié, but a council disciplinary panel dismissed the allegation last week.
The full verdict has now been published and described Mr Akutu as inconsistent.
It also questioned his claim that his complaint was personal rather than made on behalf of UCKG.
The panel described how he wrongly referred to Victoria as Anna throughout his testimony and Cllr Davis also claimed the man who turned up to the hearing was a completely different person to the individual he spoke to after the planning meeting.
The panel also noted that Mr Akutu said he was instantly offended but did not recall the relevance of Victoria Climbié until later.
Victoria was tortured and murdered by her great aunt Marie-Thérèse Kouao and her boyfriend, Carl Manning, in 2000.
According to a Charity Commission report, her aunt took her to a UCKG centre three times just before her death, but staff there did not initially realise or report the seriousness of her condition.
On one occasion a UCKG pastor initially offered her spiritual help in prayer, but on the last visit advised she should be taken to a doctor.
Cllr Davis described the complaint as "bizarre" and claimed the complaint was an attempt to discredit the planning decision.
The UCKG's Paul Hill insisted Victoria's aunt was not a supporter of the church or a member, and said his group had not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
He added: "Victor Akutu made his complaint about Cllr Davis as a private individual and did not represent the church in doing so.
"Victor is known to us as a volunteer and a long-standing church member, and we trust his honesty".
"However, we regard Cllr Davis’ comment that Victor’s action was an attempt by the church to undermine the planning decision as totally out of order.
"The UCKG is not satisfied with the council’s decision over our planning applications, so we are challenging it honourably through the proper channels by pursuing the appeals".
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