The former deputy leader of Newcastle City Council has been found guilty of Islamophobia and banned from the Labour Party for a year.
An investigation was launched into Joyce McCarty earlier this year over a scandal surrounding claims of a “Muslim plot” against ally Nick Forbes, after the long-serving council leader was dramatically deselected in February.
In a text message seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Cllr McCarty said she had heard that her friend’s ousting in his Arthur’s Hill ward had been orchestrated by councillors in the West End of the city in order to get more black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates selected.
Despite being suspended by her party in late March while the investigation was ongoing, she remained on local election ballot papers for Labour in May and was re-elected in Wingrove with an overwhelming majority.
But she will now sit as an independent, after the Labour Party confirmed she had been “found guilty through investigation of Islamophobia” and is suspended for 12 months after a disciplinary hearing. However, she will not be expelled from the party.
In a statement issued on Thursday (28 July) night, Newcastle Labour said: “We have been notified by the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit to advise us that Joyce McCarty has been found guilty through investigation of Islamophobia and is suspended from the Labour Party with immediate effect.
“She will be an independent councillor as of now and will not be entitled to attend any Labour Party activity.
“Newcastle Labour Party condemns any act of hate crime and will act and call out any such behaviour when seen.”
A party spokesman added: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
Labour indicated that the 12 months suspension includes the four already served since her initial suspension in March.
Cllr McCarty declined to comment when contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
She has been a city councillor since 1994, was Labour’s deputy leader in the city from 2007 to 2021, and deputy leader of the council from 2011 to 2021.
In February, Cllr Forbes suffered an embarrassing defeat in a contest to select Labour’s candidate in his Arthur’s Hill ward – with local party members voting by 13 to four in favour of local activist Abdul Samad.
The moderate council leader has alleged an ambush by left-wing members and claimed the selection contest was “clearly manipulated” against him, but decided not to seek election in another ward and has now stepped away from city politics.
Cllr McCarty wrote in the text message, seen by the LDRS and first reported by JOE, that she had heard there was a “specific Muslim plot” organised by councillors in the West End of Newcastle to remove the leader and get more black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates selected.