It has been revealed that Labour's parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield was a senior employee at scandal-hit housing association Clarion.

Andrew Lewin worked at Clarion Housing Group as head of external communication from 2017, before taking up the role as director of communications in 2021.

Clarion has been hit with more than 100 reprimands by the Housing Ombudsman in the last year, with Labour councillors in London and neighbouring constituency Hertsmere launching campaigns against the group.

When asked by the Welwyn Hatfield Times to comment on his role with Clarion, a spokesperson for Mr Lewin said: "This desperate and negative story has come from the Grant Shapps campaign.

"As Minister of State for Housing, he slashed budgets for building council and social housing. The housing crisis is a result of the Conservatives and their 14 failed years in government.

"On Monday, June 10, Rishi Sunak confessed that under a Conservative government it has 'got harder' to own your own home.

"Andrew Lewin won't sink to his level and will continue to run a positive campaign, setting out the difference he  wants to make as a local Labour MP."

Grant Shapps is standing as the Conservative party candidate for Welwyn Hatfield,Grant Shapps is standing as the Conservative party candidate for Welwyn Hatfield. (Image: PA Images/PA Wire)

Responding to Mr Lewin's claim, Grant Shapps, the Conservative party candidate for Welwyn Hatfield said: "I have been inundated with horror stories from Welwyn Hatfield tenants who have felt persecuted by Clarion.

"The Housing Ombudsman has said that they are amongst the worst landlord in the country.

"I have received a complaint whereby a Welwyn Hatfield family was told they will just have to live with a rat in their home. Another where they were told that damp was caused by too many people breathing in their home.

"Welwyn Hatfield Clarion tenants are demanding compensation and an apology from Clarion and I join their calls for their chief spokesman to meet them and apologise."

This newspaper also reached out to Clarion for comment, with a spokesperson saying: "We are a not-for-profit, charitable apolitical organisation and we work with stakeholders across the political spectrum to do what we can to tackle the housing crisis, engaging openly and fairly to deliver the homes we so desperately need.

"Mr Lewin took an immediate leave of absence from the organisation when the election was called on May 22, and became a full-time parliamentary candidate."

The general election will take place on July 4, with Mr Lewin standing as the Labour candidate and Mr Shapps as the Conservative candidate. John Munro is standing for the Liberal Democrats, Jack Aaron for Reform UK, and Sarah Butcher for the Green Party.