As I said, we were expecting a strong statement condemning from Mayor Lutfur Rahman his ally, Cllr Shelina Akhtar, the twice convicted benefit fraudster who faces a possible jail sentence….and we got a statement:
Here it is:
Everyone who represents the interests of this community must abide by the highest standards of personal conduct in public life. The council has procedures to follow and I understand that it will await the outcome of the sentencing before deciding what if any further steps it will take against the councillor concerned.
Interestingly, sentencing for Akhtar’s latest crime is on February 6. If that is delayed, or if she receives a sentence that is less than that required to see her automatically disqualified from Tower Hamlets Council, she will be free to vote at the crucial council meeting on February 22 when Lutfur will need all the support he can muster to see his spending plans approved.
Again, if she receives a jail term, which is very possible, I fully expect Lutfur to ask her to stand down. Of course, it’s still up to her…
In the meantime, the council has put out a separate statement:
The course of action open to the council depends in part on the outcome of the sentencing hearing and any appeal. The Local Government Act 1972 (section 80) states that councillors sentenced to a three month custodial sentence or more automatically lose their seat.
And in the background, Tory group leader Peter Golds has been asking Swan Housing what action they will take against their criminal social housing tenant.
Here is what Swan told me:
We are aware of the judgment relating to Councillor Aktar and are considering its implications. However, issues relating to the tenancy agreements that exist between Swan and its tenants are confidential and we are not able to discuss these publicly.