Two former council leaders who were caught up in a Labour Group sexism row have been appointed election candidates in “safe seats” by the party.

Colin Ellar and John Chatt will replace sitting Councillors Surjit Dhaliwal, in Hounslow Heath, and Mohammed Chaudhary, in Cranford.

A party insider described the move as “nepotism in its highest form”.

The London Labour party stepped in to supervise Hounslow selections for the May election after members ignored its policy that at least one woman should stand in each ward.

Mr Chatt had been chosen with two other men in March last year to stand in Heston Central, but the party declared the vote invalid.

Coun Dhaliwal said he was “shocked” when the party elbowed him out in favour of Mr Ellar, Labour’s vice-chairman of the Feltham and Heston constituency.

He said: “I doubt very much he will be a very successful candidate. He was not voted in by members or anything, and he has never attended a meeting in the Hounslow Heath ward.

“I’m furious to be honest with you.

“I don’t think it’s very democratic. If they want to they should open the ward and let members vote for it, but they don’t want to do that because they don’t think Colin Ellar will get any votes from the ward.”

He added: “I have been living for 42 years in the same ward, I go to the temple, the mosque, people get to know you. If anybody phones me with any problem I would help them.

“He has never done any case work in this ward.”

Mr Ellar said he lived in Hounslow Heath for four years, and has lived just outside the ward for the past three years.

He said: "I've talked with Surjit and we are on very good terms.

"He was disappointed he was not selected, but he actually wished me the best of luck and we shook hands."

Mr Chatt was unavailable for comment.

A Labour source said the party had “rewarded” Mr Ellar and Mr Chatt with safe seats after they backed down from the dispute over women candidates.

A spokesperson for London Labour Party said: “The contest to stand for Labour in Cranford and Hounslow Heath has been particularly competitive with more than 20 potential candidates including sitting councillors wishing to be considered for the three vacancies in each ward.

“An expert panel was appointed by the board of London Labour Party to ensure fair play to all, and make sure that the best candidates were selected.

“London Labour Party stands by the panel’s decision.“

Councillor Mark Bowen, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: “The Conservatives are now a fighting force in these two wards, as we are in most parts of the borough, and I expect that residents in these two wards will consider the records of these two men both in terms of how they performed as councillors for other wards and as leaders of the council."

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