Fellow blogger Tower Hamlets Watch spotted it first. The following article appeared as a small item on page 3 of this week’s new-look East London Advertiser.
Headlined “Cabdriver molested passenger”, it read:
An unlicensed cabbie who was slammed by a judge for not bothering to learn English was caged for grabbing a passenger’s breasts.
Zamal Uddin, 44, twice sexually assaulted the 26-year-old in Hoxton last October after she got into his illegal taxi after a night out with friends.
Judge Timothy King had blasted Bangladesh-born Uddin, who was aided in court by an interpreter, for not learning English after moving to the UK in 1992.
And before passing sentence the judge was handed testimonials on Uddin’s behalf from several Tower Hamlets councillors and the borough’s mayor Lutfur Rahman. Judge King said they all seemed “to be in ignorance of your background and personality”.
Jailing Uddin for 18 months, Judge King described how he leaned over and touched his passenger’s breasts in the cab before following her after she fled into an alley where he pinned her against the wall and touched her under her clothing.
Uddin, of Rogers Estate, Globe Road, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. He admitted two charges of sexual assault and driving while disqualified.
The italics above are mine. It was this somewhat buried sentence that caught the attention of Tower Hamlets Watch. I spoke today to the agency reporter who filed the story and no more details were read out in court. The judge neither named the other councillors who had provided references nor disclosed their contents. He didn’t actually name Lutfur, but said the reference came from the “mayor of Tower Hamlets”.
So I sought confirmation from the press office at Tower Hamlets council that Lutfur had indeed provided a reference. The answer from Takki Sulaiman’s office was: “The mayor does not comment on private correspondence.” Well, given that he used his public and elected title in his correspondence to the court, there is an argument that he should. I’m also waiting to hear if Lutfur’s letter was written on council logo stationery. [UPDATE AT 7pm: council press office refuse to comment on whether letter was written on official stationery.]
Meanwhile, can anyone please help shed some light on Zamal Uddin? Who is he and why is he so popular with the mayor and other councillors?
I wonder what Uddin’s victim thinks of such heavyweight support.
By the way, the original court case was reported in both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.