UCKG member appeals against dismissal of his 'not credible' complaint (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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UCKG member appeals against Waltham Forest Council's dismissal of his 'not credible' complaint
A member of a church behind controversial proposals to convert a former cinema has appealed against a panel's decision to clear a councillor accused of insulting him.
Victor Akutu made a complaint against Conservative leader Cllr Matt Davis over allegations he was biased and had insulted the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).
But a disciplinary panel at Waltham Forest Council dismissed Mr Akutu's complaint as "inconsistent" and "not credible".
Mr Akutu said the panel's decision was "absurd" and has demanded the case be looked at again.
The alleged incident followed a September planning meeting in which councillors, including Cllr Davis, rejected the UCKG's planning application to turn the former EMD cinema in Walthamstow into a church-cinema hybrid.
Mr Akutu claimed that Cllr Davis said the words "Victoria Climbié" to him during a conversation, which Mr Akutu took as an insult to his church.
Victoria was tortured and murdered by her great aunt in Haringey in 2000.
Her death is a sensitive topic for the UCKG, as Victoria's aunt brought 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.
Cllr Davis always denied the claims and the disciplinary panel noted that Mr Akutu repeatedly referred to Victoria as “Anna” during the hearing.
They also noted the apparent contradiction in Mr Akutu claim that he was instantly offended but then also did not recall the relevance of Victoria until later.
In response, Mr Akutu said in his appeal letter: “I must clarify that there is no doubt both Cllr Davis and myself were aware of what the name Victoria Climbié meant.
“What I did not understand is how someone such as Cllr Davis would by using these words considering the nature of the hearing would consider this relevant if he was not indeed biased”.
Cllr Davis also claimed the man who turned up to the disciplinary hearing was a completely different person to the person he spoke with after the planning meeting, something Mr Akutu has also denied.
Cllr Davis told the Guardian: “It's his right to appeal if he wants to and I think it demonstrates the tenacity of members of the UCKG.”
A new panel of councillors will make a decision on the appeal next Thursday (February 28).
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