The leader of Barking and Dagenham Council has claimed that his withdrawal as an MP candidate was forced by a "deliberate attempt to besmirch my name".

Darren Rodwell took to his X account this morning (July 8) to release a statement.

Cllr Rodwell had been due to stand as the Labour candidate for Barking at last week's general election.

But The Independent reported in early June that Cllr Rodwell had been subject to a Labour Party investigation over a sexual harassment allegation.

He strongly denied the claim and said today on X that a "malicious allegation" was the reason he stood back from standing as the party's Barking candidate.

Cllr Rodwell also claimed that Labour had "dismissed" an allegation regarding his conduct.

Labour declined to comment but this paper has been told that there was no open investigation regarding Cllr Rodwell.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan was parachuted in to contest the seat and became Barking MP after Thursday's poll.

The leader of Barking & Dagenham council stood down as MP candidate on June 4The leader of Barking & Dagenham Council stood down as Labour's Barking MP candidate on June 4 (Image: Michael Cox) In his statement, Cllr Rodwell wrote: "While I am obviously relieved to put this incident behind me, it has been an incredibly stressful time, which has been particularly upsetting for my family who are still living with the consequences.

"The timing of the complaint prevented me from standing as Labour's candidate for Barking at last week's General Election. 

"I do not believe this was a coincidence, but a deliberate attempt to besmirch my name and reputation ahead of the close of nominations."

Cllr Rodwell described his decision to step down as Barking's Labour candidate as "heart-breaking" but says he did so to make sure nothing would "stand in the way of a Labour victory".

Nesil Caliskan was elected as MP for the constituency Nesil Caliskan was elected as MP for the constituency (Image: Olivia Carter) Ms Caliskan was elected as MP for the constituency with 16,227 votes, continuing the seat's long Labour history. 

RELATED: Darren Rodwell 'no longer Barking MP candidate for Labour' - reports

Cllr Rodwell closed his statement by saying: "While I feel incredibly hurt, I am now focused on playing my part supporting the new Labour government in delivering the change the country desperately needs. 

"I am delighted to welcome the three new members of Parliament, and look forward to working alongside them as we seek to deliver on our ambition for this remarkable borough."