A council leader has retracted comments in which he told colleagues a long-serving health campaigner was “spreading lies”.

Andy Walker has campaigned for years to protect the Accident and Emergency Department at King George Hospital in Ilford, despite repeated reassurances from hospital managers and the council that it is not under threat.

He recently sent Redbridge Council a subject access request, asking for all data, including internal correspondence, that it held about him.

The request revealed an email from Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal to all Labour councillors on March 28.

It read: “Mr Walker has a history of spreading lies and fear in an attempt to gain votes.

“He is no friend of the Labour Party and I would recommend branches do not accept requests from Mr Walker or his associates to speak at meetings.

“Andy Walker has started up a campaign spreading misinformation and frightening residents and it is our responsibility as councillors to counteract his fear-mongering and reassure our residents.”

Andy Walker believes this led to him being “completely ignored” when he asked for councillors’ support at a meeting.

He appealed to Labour and Conservative councillors at a meeting to discuss what Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust planned to do with money it was seeking.

He said: “Cllr Athwal has branded me a liar, so it reasonable to assume that his email to Labour councillors may have been a factor in them completely ignoring me when I asked for their help.

“It is important Cllr Athwal retracts his claim by writing to councillors to correct his error so I get a fair hearing in future.”

Cllr Athwal retracted the comments at a cabinet meeting earlier this week,

Cllr Athwal has been contacted for comment.