A RACE and equality advisor to the Mayor has resigned from the Lewisham Labour Party claiming it runs an “apartheid system”.

David Michael, chairman of Lewisham Local Police Consultative Group and Sir Steve Bullock’s advisor on community cohesion, was due to contest the Whitefoot ward in 2010 but has resigned claiming he was not supported by branch members.

A former policeman and the first black constable to be stationed in Lewisham in the early 1970s, he claims the resignation was sparked by the selection of Councillor Heidi Alexander to succeed Bridget Prentice MP.

Mr Michael claims “outstanding black candidate” Florence Nosegbe should have been chosen instead.

He said: “I didn’t go off in a huff. My reasons for resigning are fundamentally to do with the whole of Lewisham Labour Party’s structures, systems and procedures.”

Mr Michael, a resident of Catford for 26 years, says he and a number of other ethnic minority candidates have been marginalised by the party in a “scandalous apartheid system”, being put forward for unwinnable seats and given no support.

He said: “We should be having a party that looks like Lewisham but people in charge at a high level are completely ignoring that.”

Out of Labour’s 26 councillors, just five are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Mr Michael is considering running for mayor or even Parliament as an independent candidate.

He said: “I’m totally against tokenism - there are lots of talented black members.

“But those candidates aren’t given what they perceive to be safe seats or strong, winnable seats.

“They’re are relegated to whatever’s left. That’s rotten. It’s rotten to the core.

“In terms of recent selections I’ve been involved in, black people can forget about it.”

Liberal Democrat member of the Local Police Consultative Group Councillor Duwayne Brooks said: “David Michael deserves better than to be treated so shabbily by Labour and by what appears to be a small clique in Lewisham who are only concerned with doing favours for their mates.”

But Sir Steve Bullock's said: "I have worked closely with David on issues affecting our community in Lewisham and have valued his work. It is unfair to say that the local Labour Party doesn't encourage and support its black and ethnic minority members.

“There is always more that can be done but in the last 18 months, Lewisham Labour Party has run a number of events specifically aimed at encouraging participation by black and minority ethnic members."

Leader of Lewisham Labour Party Councillor Alan Hall said: "We rebut this completely. We've got more ethnic minority candidates this time round than ever.

"If you look at the diversity within the elected Lewisham Labour councillors now compared to other parties there's a range of ethnicities and women candidates."