THE MAN who has led the battle against the opening of a controversial new Tesco Express store has admitted to shopping at one of the firm's other branches.

Green activist Ashley Gunstock fought an unsuccessful campaign to prevent the Wanstead branch of the chain being given an alcohol licence earlier this year, and has called on shoppers to boycott the store in favour of local independent shops.

But the father-of-one, of Cranbourne Avenue, has been labelled a 'hypocrite' by Ed Northover - Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PCC) for Wanstead and Leyton - who revealed that he regularly shops at Tesco's superstore in Leytonstone.

In a letter to the Guardian, Mr Northover said: "I have read your features about the Tesco in Wanstead and share many of the concerns of the Green Party about the effect it might have.

"Accordingly, it came as something of a surprise to learn that Ashley Gunstock, Green Party PPC for Leyton & Wanstead, shops at the Tesco in Leytonstone.

"I raised this with the Green campaigners on Saturday whilst they were handing out leaflets in Wanstead against not just the Tesco in Wanstead but supermarkets and Tesco in general.

"They were aware of Mr Gunstock's shopping habits and admitted this was "inconsistent" with what they were saying.

"In my view this is not just inconsistency - it is blatant hypocrisy. How can people be expected to partake in the serious debate to be had about the economic and social effect of supermarket growth when many of the politicians aren't even practising what they preach."

Mr Gunstock confirmed to the Guardian that he does shop at Tesco in Leytonstone but said he only did this to buy any goods he could not find in Wanstead High Street.

He said: "We do all the shopping we possibly can at our local independent shops but due to my work life and campaigning I don't always have enough time to do this.

"We use Wanstead Pharmacy, Bennett's the newsagents, the greengrocers - as many shops as we can before shopping at Tesco.

"It shows how important our campaign is when even people like us who are so committed to shopping locally, can't get what we need in the High Street because so many shops have disappeared.

"If I do use Tesco, I always try and get there by bicycle.

"I'm flattered that (Mr Northover) has taken so much interest in this. Though I can't remember seeing him handing out leaflets with us in the High Street to promote local businesses."

The Tesco Express store in Wanstead High Street is due to open some time in January.