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Former Norwich MP hopeful suspended

PUBLISHED: 07:28 27 April 2010 | UPDATED: 10:00 02 July 2010

John Cowan

John Cowan

Shaun Lowthorpe

A Labour general election candidate who once hoped to be a Norwich MP has been suspended by party officials over allegations that he posted "unacceptable" messages online.

A Labour general election candidate who once hoped to be a Norwich MP has been suspended by party officials over allegations that he posted “unacceptable” messages online.

John Cowan, former vice-chairman of the Norfolk County Labour Party, who is also chairman of Barnham Broom parish council, reportedly left comments on motoring and dating websites in which he admitted illegally paying his cleaner cash-in-hand.

Mr Cowan, who was standing for Labour in South-East Cambridgeshire also boasted about his sexual exploits, and said he would not want his children to marry a Muslim, according to a national newspaper.

Labour's election team has also launched an investigation in to its selection processes in the Eastern region in the wake of Mr Cowan's suspension.

A Labour Party spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that Mr Cowan had been dropped.

“The allegations that came to light after nominations closed are totally unacceptable and well below what the party expects of our candidates,” she said. “The general secretary of the Labour Party has suspended the candidate from the Labour Party and we are taking action to ensure he is never again a Labour candidate.

“The Labour Party's relevant committees will be asked to consider whether he should be expelled from the Labour Party.”

South East Cambridgeshire is a Tory stronghold, which returned James Paice with a majority of nearly 9,000 at the last general election.

Mr Cowan, who had hoped to be Labour's candidate in last year's Norwich North by-election before dropping out of the selection contest, was previously expelled from the Liberal Democrats in 2004 in connection with “inappropriate” online posts.

In 2007 he also hit the headlines while working as a Labour Party agent at a Breckland District Council election count which had to be evacuated after he set off the fire alarms in frustration at technical problems involving the trial of an electronic count which had to be suspended.

Police also had to be called in at the time after he refused to leave the building.

Labour's election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander told a press conference in central London that the party was looking into how a man who had been expelled from the Liberal Democrats came be to selected as a parliamentary candidate.

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