LABOUR Party chiefs in Southend have blocked an activist from standing in local elections – because of his career as a Page 3 photographer.

Mike Fieldhouse, from Westcliff, stood in last year’s Southend Council elections in the Prittlewell ward, losing out to Conservative candidate David Garston by just 78 votes.

But this time around Mr Fieldhouse, a member of hard left faction Momentum, has been told his profession as a glamour photographer could be used as a “political weapon” by opponents.

A selection panel labelled his job an “embarrassment” to the party and criticised the dad-of-two for considering it a “trivial matter”.

But Mr Fieldhouse told the Echo he has worked for national newspapers, including the Daily Star, for more than 25 years and his work is “no secret”.

He said: “It was disappointing and surprising. Just last month the party put out a press release saying I was a ‘valuable member of the local party’.

“So it’s come as an absolute shock that in just over a month I’ve become someone who they don’t think is suitable to stand.”

Mr Fieldhouse volunteers at Southend’s Night Shelter Project and is a qualified counsellor who works with a charity providing support to victims of rape and child sex abuse.

He also led the successful fight to save Southend Hospital’s A&E.

But national newspapers have reported that Mr Fieldhouse made an hour-long instructional video about how to photograph topless models.

He said: “It’s never been a secret. I don’t go around saying I’m a glamour photographer, but I’m a photographer and I shoot glamour. It’s something I still do part-time but I have spent three years retraining as a counsellor.”

The Echo has seen a copy of the rejection letter, written by candidate assessments chairman Jes Phillips.

It said: “The decision not to approve your candidature this time was taken in respect of the potential for your profession as a glamour photographer and the work you produce in that role to cause embarrassment to the party and/or be used as a political weapon by our opponents given the public coverage it has received thus far.

“It was further felt that your disclosure of this was insufficiently detailed and that you considered this a trivial matter.”

The letter also said that Mr Fieldhouse “would benefit from more time to broaden your understanding of the role of a councillor beyond the boundaries of the ward and how councillors aid in the running of the council.”

It added: “Given your previous experience, as a candidate the panel was disappointed to see this as the area you ranked lowest in especially as previous candidates are held to a higher standard than new candidates and are expected to show progression.

“However, you performed well in your awareness of your local community, your community involvement and campaigning experience.”

Mr Fieldhouse added: “I’m surprised they have come back and changed their minds.”