A FORMER councillor who says she was deselected after speaking out against "racism, sexism and homophobia" has asked why an investigation has not yet taken place.

Saima Afzal MBE, who represented the Central ward on Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council between 2018 and 2021, has already called for an investigation into her treatment at the hands of the local Labour Party.

However she says she has now been angered and disappointed to find that, despite having been told that both her treatment and what she says are entrenched cultures of discriminatory behaviour and views amongst sections of the local party would be investigated, no such move has taken place.

Ms Afzal said: "They don't have a reasonable answer, they're just going to give a bog standard one.

"I know that the processes were manipulated but they haven't got any answers to that."

The former councillor, who is also an independent safeguarding adviser, has argued that the issues are intertwined, that she had faced a campaign of obstruction and intimidation precisely because she had called sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour into question.

She believes that this is why she was deselected as a Labour candidate.

Ms Afzal said: "What I'm asking is what was so wrong about me? What was so unacceptable to voters about a woman who is professional, who has experience, who has a career.

"What exactly is it that is so unacceptable? Could it be that I am not a compliant woman and that I've asked questions about sexism, misogyny and racism."

She added: "If you've got people in positions of influence who do not challenge, or who are perpetuating that behaviour then they have got to be questioned.

"If those are the reasons that I have not been accepted then some in the party have lost their way."

Ms Afzal said that for as long as such attitudes were tolerated she did would not seek any position in the party, though she remains a member.

She said: "My honest answer is that as long as certain people are part of the party, who are guilty of the behaviour that I have spoken about then I will not put myself forward to be subjected to that again."

"If I had wanted a position then I would have kept my mouth shut, I refused to do that, that was my crime."

"I doubt very much that the handful of the select, elect elite will admit to that."

Meanwhile Blackburn and District Trades Union Council have said that they are also disappointed that despite having contacted Blackburn Labour in mid-April requesting an investigation into Ms Afzal's treatment, they have sill not received a response.

President Vikki Dugdale said: "A greater worry is the suggestion that Councillor Afzal’s withdrawal from the Labour Councillor selection process was a consequence of her facing intimidation and hostility on misogynistic and sexist grounds."

She added: "On the presumption that the Party wants its body of councillors to reflect the make-up of the local community, it also seems strange to, essentially, replace one BAME woman with another, when that would appear to be an area of particular under-representation."

Blackburn Labour Party declined to comment but says that the matter remains in the hands of the party’s regional office.