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Archive for November 17th, 2010

Further to my post about Cllr Shelina Akhtar yesterday, the Met Police now tell me that she was arrested on suspicion of fraud on November 9. Another person connected to the case was arrested the following day. As I wrote, they have both been bailed to return to an east London police station on December 7.

However, there are some other details. Thames Magistrates’ Court has just told me that on July 27 this year, a Shelina Akhtar (whose date of birth was given as September 1978, ie now aged 32) received a conviction for three counts of benefit fraud. She was given a 12 month community service order and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work. She was also fined £250.

The prosecutors in the case were the Department for Work and Pensions. Her conviction states that “she failed to notify of a change in circumstances, namely that she was working between July 22, 2008 and April 5, 2009”. That is, she was wrongly claiming benefits for a period of nine months. At the time of the conviction, she gave her address as a flat in Blackwall Way in E14.

Cllr Shelina Akhtar was registered on the electoral roll at Toynbee Street, Spitalfields, in December 2009. According to Met Police sources, her age is 32.

The Town Hall is investigating whether this is the same person.

If so, some questions:

– was the Labour party aware of this when she was nominated to stand for them in Spitalfields (Abbas’s and Lutfur’s stronghold) in April 2010?

– was anyone in Tower Hamlets council aware of this?

– why did she ask the council after she was elected in May to amend her surname to Aktar?

 

UPDATE – 5.15pm

Graham Taylor, the chair of the Tower Hamlets Labour party has issued the following statement:

“Tower Hamlets Labour Party confirms that it was unaware of any prosecution at any point.
“As part of the applcaiton form and during the interview stage of the selection process to be a candidate, all applicants are asked whether:
– there are any interests that they would need to declare if elected
– whether there is anything that has happned to them that could cause embarassment to the party, and
– whether there is anything that would bar them for being a candidate.

“Cllr Akhtar made no such declaration.”

Meanwhile, Labour group leader Helal Abbas has also issued a statement, saying he did not now about any allegations until told yesterday. He adds:

Cllr Aktar had not declared anything of this nature to me when being selected as a Labour Candidate or since being elected to serve on the Council.
“I believe that all allegations against Councillors of wrong-doing should be investigated thoroughly using the Council’s mechanisms and appropriate action taken.  I think it is important that all elected representatives act with integrity and set a good example to their constituents.”


I have tried calling Cllr Akhtar, but so far I’ve been unable to get through.

 

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