I’m told Mayor Lutfur Rahman only became aware of the quote issued in his name on the Anjem Choudary demonstration when he read it on this blog.
I’m also told he was “furious and horrified”; I’m told he never authorised it.
Here it is again:
We strongly believe in the right to free speech and association, and I am pleased that, with the police’s support, this group were able to exercise that right whilst upholding respect for our communities, which is the hallmark of our ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge.
I must say, I was also extremely surprised he’d say anything so stupid.
Today, Tower Hamlets council issued this clarification:
Last Friday, 13th December, 2013, Tower Hamlets Council issued a statement regarding the demonstration on Brick Lane. For the record the statement released at 17:16 was not authorised for release and had not been approved by Mayor Lutfur Rahman. That statement is formally withdrawn and internal processes have been reviewed.
He has instead approved the following statement in the aftermath of the demonstration:-
Commenting on the demonstration in Brick Lane, Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “As part of our pledge to ‘No Place for Hate’, we oppose all groups that seek to impose their views on and bring division to our communities. Council staff worked with the police to ensure that the businesses, residents and visitors on Brick Lane were protected during the demonstration.”
Lutfur’s supporters are incandescent. They believe the original quote has damaged the mayor.
So what happened?
I understand the original quote was drafted by a press officer in the council’s communications department, ie the one run by £100,000 a year Takki Sulaiman. I know the name of the press officer who sent it but I won’t embarrass them right now.
It’s not clear whether Takki or Lutfur’s own mayoral media adviser Numan Hussain read it before it was sent to the East London Advertiser.
I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t read by someone more senior than the person who drafted it.
Either way, it’s Takki’s department and he’s responsible. It seems the processes he drew up have failed. But I’m sure no one will lose their gold-plated pension over it.
The question is: which officer actually thought the original statement was appropriate?
Time for an FoI.