A Watford councillor who took part in a peace conference in South Korea has fought off criticism about her trip.

Councillor Janet Baddeley, who represents Holywell ward, was invited to the Universal Peace Federation event, and declared the private trip as a £2,500 "gift". A ll gifts accepted by councillors, which are worth more than £25, must be declared.

But mention of the organisation's association with Rev Dr Sun Myung Moon on the Watford Observer website has forced her to defend her participation.

Councillor Baddeley, a Liberal Democrat, said she was invited through her peace work with the council, where she is a regular face at community events across the town. She also does a lot of volunteer work.

She said: "This particular organisation does a lot of good work in this country.

"Where I was in South Korea, I was mixing with senators, archbishops - different people from all round the world.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met people from all faiths and cultures. I learnt an awful lot."

The trip, which took place from July 15-22, 2007, was jointly funded by the International Universal Peace Federation (New York) and the National Universal Peace Federation (London), and Councillor Baddeley said her detractors were "out to cause mischief".

She said: "If they're trying to say they're the Moonies from the 1960s, that's not right. It was about bringing communities together to learn about each other and work alongside each other.

"It may have been their ethos in the 1960s, but not now. They don't come across as a cult now. They're ordinary people with ordinary jobs.

"I work as a peace person and they are a peace organisation. That trip was completely innocent. I learnt a lot from meeting people. If I can bring that back to Watford, that's a benefit.

"It's innocent and I declared it. I've nothing to hide. I don't know why they're trying to cause mischief."