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Posts Tagged ‘peter golds’

In the days before Panorama broadcast on March 31, Lutfur Rahman and his camp looked into their crystal ball and confidently warned the world the programme would be “racist” and “Islamophobic”.

The Mayor himself (a lawyer, remember) went further and took to Twitter to say this:

TwitterA few days later he repeated the charge on his blog:

Criminal investigation underway as BBC Panorama whistle-blower reveals racist and Islamophobic programme on Tower Hamlets

You may be aware that BBC Panorama is due to air a programme about Tower Hamlets next week.

I believe the programme is being used for political campaigning and electioneering purposes just weeks before local and Mayoral elections in May.

A dossier passed to us by a BBC whistle-blower has revealed it to be in total breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines as a public broadcaster.

It has clear racist and Islamophobic overtones targeting the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Tower Hamlets.

The BBC and the undercover production company, Films of Record, have also been referred to the Information Commissioner and there is now a criminal investigation underway.

 He was referring, of course, to the so-called “whistleblower” who was hired by the Panorama team to work as a journalist/researcher.

I wrote about her here. She lasted four days before the team waved her goodbye. She took a very important dossier she’d “obtained” from the Panorama team and handed it to the Mayor’s office. She then claimed “whistleblower” status.

She claimed the programme was biased and that she’d witnessed racism among the producers and reporting team.

This was all gleefully exploited by Lutfur and his aides as yet more evidence of an Establishment stitch-up. He even wrote to the BBC’s Director General to demand the programme be pulled, he told us on his blog.

The so-called “whistleblower” herself started a blog and opened an anonymous Twitter account where she detailed her experiences.

Here’s some examples of her Tweets:

Twitter Voice of Bangla

(sic)

As some of you are aware there is a criminal investigation under way relating to this programme which limits me as to what I can disclose.
Well, allow me to disclose something.
Today, I asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) whether there was, as Lutfur said, a criminal investigation into the BBC.
No, they confirmed. And neither is there one into Films of Record, the production company.
I asked whether there was any criminal investigation, but all they would say is there is an “investigation into allegations of a breach of the Data Protection Act and enquiries are continuing”.
However, I can go further.
I gather that a member of the public, who has for many years been a close observer of Tower Hamlets politics, has made his own complaint to the ICO because data connected to him was in the dossier. I understand from him that the there IS a criminal investigation and that he’s a witness.
Not only that, I gather from him that the ICO also has an official “suspect” in the case.
Guess who?
Yes, the so-called “whistleblower” herself.
She’s the one being investigated, not the BBC.
Wonder if Lutfur will tweet that?
The Panorama programme “racist?”

Well, I don’t think any reasonable person thinks that. Even the Guardian’s Dave Hill, who takes a more measured tone than most on these issues (to the point of glossing over Lutfur’s character sometimes) said, “the Panorama show was pretty measured, sketched in relevant context and acknowledged some of the borough’s achievements. The questions it asked were reasonable. It didn’t recycle that pernicious glory-seeking back catalogue of Tower Hamlets’ Islamist conspiracy that so excites the far Right, and well done for that”.
However, stand by for more phoney allegations of “racism” and “Islamophobia” – those last refuges of a bankrupt politician with no credible answers to the “reasonable” questions Panorama raised about his high handed and unaccountable governance.
He’s been the victim himself of pretty nasty smears and innuendo. Quite rightly, he’s railed against the bigots who spread them. What a shame he’s resorting to similar tactics.

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As promised, here’s Stephanie Eaton’s valedictory piece–a look back on her past eight years in Tower Hamlets as she prepares to stand down on May 22.

(For what it’s worth, my view is that apart from one or two slightly rose-tinted opinions on the current regime–at its outset, at least–she’s been the most reasoned councillor in that time. Like Peter Golds, she has also been the target of attacks from senior council officers and ruling Labour councillors after she dared to take them on. The below front page story we did for the East London Advertiser was particularly memorable; it came only a few months after she was elected. It was highly embarrassing for Labour at that time, so much so that the council’s communications department posted thousands of letters to nearby residents to say she and the ELA were scaremongering. We weren’t. Eight years on, that site at the Oval in Bethnal Green remains derelict. But that brush with the East End Life department certainly opened her eyes to the misinformation it can spread.)

Here’s her final fond farewell (she declined to offer any views on the calamitous Lutfur Rahman/Labour fallout, but she does share a quite pointed opinion on the system of directly elected mayors; perhaps there’s a hidden meaning, who knows…)

I was elected to Tower Hamlets Council on 4 May 2006. On July 7 that year, I attended a memorial service for the victims of the London bombings the previous year. The then Assistant Chief Executive, Sara Williams was there too and I asked her what she had been doing at the same time last year.

Her answer opened my eyes to the importance of the organisation I had just joined.

Sara told me that the Council had activated its emergency plans on that terrible day, to ensure that children who could not be collected from school were cared for until their parents arrived; that meals for vulnerable residents were still delivered; that Mosques and Muslim businesses in the community were supported and protected from any retaliatory actions; that resources were made available to help the hospitals and Police; and transport was arranged so that workers at Canary Wharf and around the Borough managed to get home, or to other accommodation for the night.

Sara had worked continuously for 18 hours even though she had lost contact with her own family members.

Recognising the importance of the Council to people’s daily lives, it was a steep learning curve for me to appreciate how all the different elements of the Council work in the Borough. It was an even more difficult task to understand the politics of the Council and how to get things done as an opposition councillor.

I may be unusual in not coming from a political family or from student politics, and some political experience would have helped. I was told that people considered me naïve – I’m sure they were right. But I did have a terrific mentor in Peter Truesdale from Lambeth, and Peter’s advice and encouragement proved invaluable.

He told me not to take criticism personally, to divide my time equally between managing my group of fellow Liberal Democrats, attending Council Committees, and spending time in my ward listening to residents and helping them deal with concerns.

I didn’t quite manage to split my time into thirds: in my first year I attended every committee I could so that I could get to grips with the business of the Council. It was useful and important. However, when the then Leader of the Conservative group Simon Rouse told me “You’re spending too much time in the Town Hall”, he was right and I changed the balance of my work to spend more time with businesses and residents.

Being in opposition is horrible.

I presume some people enjoy it, never having to take difficult decisions, but not me.

Nevertheless, being in opposition is important, and a lot can be achieved, but it’s not the same as having a chance to put your plans into action or working closely with officers to implement policy. But all councillors can do important work to represent their constituents.

One of the first and most important pieces of casework I did was for a man who lived in a two-up two-down maisonette. He was dying of emphysema and could barely walk. He had a choice of living upstairs with the bathroom or downstairs with the kitchen.

He came to me and asked for help because he had been sleeping on the sitting room couch, using a bucket for a toilet so that he could be close to the kitchen. I arranged for him to get a stairlift as an emergency, to enable him to sleep in a bed and use a bathroom for the last few months of his life.

It shook me that firstly, it was so easy for me to do this for him – Council staff were brilliant and immediately recognised the need and urgency of the case – and secondly, that I had the power or influence, whatever it should be called, to make this happen.

All Councillors will have stories about strange requests and unreasonable demands: mine is the man who called me and said he had an emergency and I needed to come to his house. I had to see the problem, he couldn’t describe it, and it had to be that day.

I reshuffled my life, rushed over there to be shown to the back patio area. “Look!” he said. I looked and then asked “What am I looking at?”. “The leaves” he replied. “They’re falling onto the ground”. “It’s autumn” I said, “That’s what leaves do…”. “The council must sweep them up” he said. I’m afraid I left a slightly disgruntled homeowner that evening – even though I had offered to sweep up the leaves myself!

I have loved (nearly) every minute of being a Councillor, but especially the first four years up to 2010. I opposed the directly elected mayoral system made possible by the Local Government Act 2000.

The referendum in 2010 that brought an executive mayor to Tower Hamlets was shrewd politics for the Respect party – because it means that only one elected position really matters any more – that of the Mayor, as that person can administer the borough without the input of any councillors.

Having power vested in one individual is potentially risky, and for me, the model of collective decision-making by a leader and cabinet elected from among the Councillors provides a more representative way to take decisions on behalf of our community.

On a personal note, having been a councillor for eight years, I now understand much better how the world works, from getting the rubbish collected, to the development of multi-million pound contracts for new homes.

I have been warmly welcomed by many people into their homes and lives. I have made an astonishing range of friends across the political boundaries: of course my partner is a Labour councillor and our home has been visited by people from all parties.

Other political party activists canvassing in our area know they are always welcome to use the loo! On one memorable occasion – Liberal Democrats, Labour, and Conservatives met in our house on the same evening – but that’s a story for another generation.

My best wishes go to all new and continuing Councillors taking office on May 23.

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Every month councillors are required to submit a timesheet detailing the work they claim they’ve been doing to collect their allowances and special responsibility allowances from the public purse.

Well, let me clarify that: they’re meant to submit them and they collect their allowances regardless of the work they actually do; the timesheets and their pay are not in any way related.

So in some ways, these timesheets are meaningless.

However, they are somewhat illuminating because they shine a we light on a councillor’s character. Some take them very seriously and submit them as regularly as clockwork. Some are also completely honest about what they state on them.

For example, Labour’s excellent Bow East councillor, Marc Francis, falls into both categories. His timesheets are pretty much up to date and you can read his latest one for January 2014 here:

Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 09.23.10In fact, this probably understates the work he does.

In contrast, let’s have a look at the latest Tower Hamlets turncoat, the newly Independent Anwar Khan, who will now stand against his own sister-in-law in Bow West.

The last timesheet he appears to have submitted (and hey, as a management consultant he knows full well the importance of well kept timesheets) was in September 2011. In fact, in the 46 months since he was elected as a councillor, the council only displays records for nine months.

And in that time since he’s been a chief whip for the Labour group, one of whose duties was to ensure colleagues kept up with their timesheets.

Perhaps he was just too busy to submit them. I mean, he’s a really busy man, it seems.

Have a look at his timesheet for September 2010, the month before Lutfur was elected mayor and when he would have presumably been spending an awful lot of time on party, not council, business.

Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 09.40.59

Wow. A hugely impressive 144 hours on councillor business that month. That’s 36 hours a week–a full time job in itself. How he managed to combine that with raising a young family and a high-powered job in the City, I’ll never know. He must have understanding employers.

I wonder whether his timesheets for them include such guff as 15 hours on “community events”. In fact, he states 15 hours per month on every sheet he’s submitted. It’s a lovely catch-all phrase is ‘community events’.

But out of the various councillor records I’ve looked at, his isn’t the worst. His latest enemy and fellow Bow West councillor Ann Jackson takes that prize: she hasn’t submitted once since January 2010.

Councillors may think these timesheets futile but they are among the few scraps that their voters have to examine what they’re doing.

Here’s a little table of the records for Respect and the independents:
Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 10.02.04

I’ve put a N/A by the name of Gulam Robbani (who has had some previous difficulties with his timesheets, remember) because the council’s website has none next to his name. Shurely some mistake?

I don’t have time to go through all the other councillors, so maybe someone else can help.

However, among the group leaders, we see this:

Labour’s Sirajul Islam – Dec 2013

Tories’ Peter Golds – Sep 2013

Lib Dem Stephanie Eaton – Sep 2013.

And unless I’ve missed it, I can’t see any timesheet section for Mayor Lutfur Rahman himself. Maybe he just uses a tachometer.

 

 

 

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Mayor Lutfur Rahman has form when it comes to supplying judges with court references for convicted criminals.

In 2011, as reported here, he wrote a lovely letter on behalf of minicab driver Zamal Uddin who was awaiting sentence for molesting a female passenger in Hoxton. Unusually, in that instance, the mayor wrote to me to explain himself.

zamal-uddin1

He said he’d been duped by Uddin’s family, that he thought he was being convicted of driving without a licence. Well, I guess we’re all human and we all make mistakes, even a fully qualified lawyer whose job is to pay attention to such detail.

It’s happened again, although this time I’m pretty sure Lutfur knew what he was doing.

Whenever I’m asked to give lectures about Tower Hamlets, I always cite this story: of how Mahee Jalil/Mohammed Ferdhaus, the boss and founder of Channel S television was kidnapped outside his Walthamstow office, bundled into the boot of a car, driven across London and hanged from the ceiling by his ankles while being tortured with scolding water poured over his testicles. He was then released by a sympathetic kidnapper and dumped by the side of the North Circular.

Of course, Mahee Jalil isn’t any ordinary businessman. He’s a crook. In 2008, he was convicted of a car insurance fraud and served time in jail.

It was after he reemerged from prison that he was given a Kray style treatment by an angry husband. This experience apparently made him see the light.

But he remains a powerful figure. He founded Channel S and although he still has (or had until recently) his own show, his name no longer appears on any legal documents connected to the station. This is convenient. Channel S was put under new management shortly before Ofcom’s latest ruling against it (more here).

Lutfur’s people, and Labour, are desperate to appear on Channel S. It’s the one media outlet that matters. This is why Lutfur hired at the public’s expense its reporter Mohammed Jubair to work as his media adviser (while still working for the station!); it’s why Tower Hamlets council gives it £10,000 a year for an annual awards show that is anything but One Tower Hamlets.

In short, the cowboy TV channel founded by crooked Mahee has been extremely friendly to Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

So the least Lutfur could do by way of thanks (and undoubtedly from some genuinely held conviction Mahee had changed his ways) was to try and help get his latest sentence minimised, this time for money-laundering some £500,000 from another car insurance scam. This money laundering took place while Mahee was on bail awaiting his previous sentence. He must have been so contrite.

I’ve not yet seen Lutfur’s full reference letter and no one from the council (which says it wants to tackle crime) wanted to comment yesterday.

However, Peter Golds has written to the council’s head of paid service Steve Halsey demanding a full investigation into the town hall’s links with Channel S. I can’t help thinking the council is bringing itself into disrepute.

Here’s the piece I wrote for the Express yesterday.

The photo is taken from Mahee’s last interview with Lutfur Rahman, which was uploaded on to YouTube in November last year, when the mayor was fully aware of Mahee’s latest predicament. (I’m going to moderate comments on this thread to ensure there is no reference to any other ongoing legal proceedings).

Lutfur_ferdhaus-460480

ONE of Britain’s most controversial mayors provided a glowing court reference yesterday to a convicted insurance fraudster who was then sentenced to three years in jail for money laundering.

Lutfur Rahman, the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets Council in east London, praised Mohammed Ferdhaus’s “instrumental role” in promoting Britain’s Bangladeshi community just minutes before he was sent to prison for the second time in six years.

Mr Rahman’s letter of praise made reference to Ferdhaus’s work with Channel S, an influential satellite TV station for British Bangladeshis and which has been warned by Ofcom for broadcasting biased coverage of the mayor’s policies.

Ferdhaus is the channel’s founder and was until recently a regular presenter.

He interviewed Mr Rahman, an independent who was expelled from Labour in 2010, on the channel as recently as last November.

Despite a previous jail sentence for insurance fraud, Ferdhaus has been named as one of the most powerful Bangladeshis in Britain.

However, a judge at Southwark Crown Court yesterday said another custodial sentence was the only possible outcome for his latest crime, laundering the money from a £1.9million crash for cash insurance scam.

Ferdhaus, 40, who is also known as Mahee Jalil, grinned as his sentence was read out and waved at supporters in the public gallery, saying “thank you” and “see you  soon”.

He helped flush funds generated by a team of fraudsters led by his brother, Mohammed Samsul Haque, 26.

Haque, together with five other men, had already been sentenced to a total of more than 12 years in prison.

More than 120 bogus insurance claims for luxury motors including Mercedes, Jaguars and BMWs were engineered by Haque through his company, Motor Alliance.

Cars were trashed at crash for cash drinking parties at Haque’s garage in Tottenham, north London, the court heard.

The gang rammed the vehicles into each other blocking out the noise with blaring music, before finishing the job with baseball bats.

Between November 2005 and October 2008, a series of London-based accident management firms were used as a front to hide their activities.

They also persuaded other drivers to provide their licence details to back up the insurance claims in return for small amounts of cash.

The firm raked in around £1.17million in profits from the scam, which was unearthed after police raided Motor Alliance and found 64 files relating to insurance claims in the boot of a silver Mercedes.

Ferdhaus had a “background” role in the firm and was involved in the scam between July 19, 2006 and October 31, 2008.

The media mogul tried to pin the blame on his innocent middle brother, Abdul, and maintained his innocence on the day he was due to stand trial in July last year.

He was jailed for 18 months in 2008 for conspiracy to defraud in respect of an almost identical earlier insurance scam between 2002 and 2003.

The businessman was on bail awaiting trial at the time he became embroiled in the later fraud.

Ferdhaus had suffered post traumatic stress disorder after being kidnapped at gunpoint outside his TV station offices in Walthamstow, east London and issued with a £250,000 ransom demand.

When he refused to pay his assailants they tortured him, hanging him upside down and pouring boiling water on his head, before threatening to rape his daughter.

He continues to endure psychological difficulties as a result of the ordeal in May 2011, shortly after he returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, the court heard.

But sentencing, Judge Anthony Pitts said: “The proceeds of the fraud Motor Alliance received was something a little over £1m.

“Payments from the proceeds of the fraud were put into your account or accounts controlled by you.

“The proceeds of the fraud received by you was £500,000.

“It wasn’t proceeds which you suspected might be proceeds of fraud but of course which you knew were the proceeds of fraud.

“You are a highly intelligent man, there is no doubt about that and I have read a lot of good things about you.

“Of course you have suffered post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and depression.

“But money laundering is a serious offence.

“You were close to the source of the fraud and you dishonestly handled £500,000.

“This offending by you is so serious that even given the lapse in time, largely for which you are responsible, an immediate custodial sentence of some length must be passed.”

Shaven headed and wearing a black jacket, grey sweater and jeans Ferdhaus bit his nails and held his head in his hands as he sat in the glass-enclosed dock during the hearing.

But he appeared cheerful as the sentence was passed, thanking the judge and giving a thumbs up to supporters in the packed public gallery.

He grinned and waved, telling them “thank you” and “see you soon” as he was led down to the cells.

Ferdhaus was also banned from being a director for 10 years.

Mark Milliken-Smith QC, defending Ferdhaus, said of his kidnapping: “The fact that he suffered post traumatic stress disorder is hardly surprising given the physical and mental ordeal he was subjected to.

“What happened to him in May 2011 was a very, very significant and life changing experience.

“This is a changed man.”

Ferdhaus received a glowing references, including the one from Mr Rahman, who described him as playing an “instrumental role” in promoting the Bangladeshi community through Channel S.

He has a “real desire to help others” and is a keen philanthropist in particular supporting those affected by natural disasters, the court heard.

“He has a selflessness which one doesn’t naturally associate with an individual concerned with personal greed,” Mr Milliken-Smith added.

Ferdhaus, from Brentwood, Essex, admitted possessing criminal property.

Samsul Haque, of Maida Vale, west London, was given five years in October 2011 after he admitted conspiracy to defraud between November 13, 2005 and October 16, 2008.

His lieutenant Rosul Yusuf, 33, was jailed for four years, while Shalim Miah, 29, received two years behind bars and Halimur Rashid, 28, was jailed for 15 months.

Nazruislam Muhammad Rahman, 32, and Noveed Akhtar, 40, both of whom were named in bogus claims made by Haque’s gang were given 12 month sentences suspended for 12 months.

Paul Ellis, 37, who pleaded guilty to providing six driving licences to Haque was given a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months.

Ellis and Rahman were ordered to carry out 100 and 140 hours of unpaid work respectively.

Today, Councillor Peter Golds, the leader of the Tory opposition in Tower Hamlets called for a council investigation into the town hall’s links with Channel S.

The council and the mayor declined to comment.

There is no suggestion that Lutfur Rahman had any involvement in the insuranceor money laundering scam.

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I’v now heard of several cases of when Lutfurite canvassers (it’s alleged they’re being paid to knock on doors) have introduced themselves at people’s homes without clearly stating who they are. One contact said they were paid a visit by Cllr Alibor Choudhury recently and claimed even he failed to clarify his status; instead he apparently said “Hello, we’re from Tower Hamlets council and we believe in bringing the council to you” before asking whether there were any problems he could solve.

Mark Baynes, who runs the LoveWapping blog has detailed at some length the problems he’s witnessed, eg here, here and here. Channel 4 have also been examining the issue.

Peter Golds raised it at full council last week. I asked him to write a piece for this blog.

By Cllr Peter Golds

Three weeks ago a Labour candidate in Cubitt Town was calling on voters in Galbraith Street. How do I know? Easy, because a voter told me the next day.

The voter knew this was a Labour candidate because she had material identifying her party and herself as a candidate and indeed said so.  A week later I was with a team canvassing in Stewart Street and I have no doubt that the Labour party heard about this.

Why? Because we also identified ourselves and had leaflets and stickers indicating exactly who we were.

Once the local elections get fully under way candidates and helpers will be easily identified as they will be wearing coloured rosettes when calling on voters.

The stories circulating regarding canvassers supporting Lutfur Rahman and his team of candidates–and they are canvassers–are increasingly disturbing.

These people are not identifying themselves either as canvassers or immediately as supporters of the Rahman administration. In one case a resident on Manchester Road, questioned the two young men who called on him asking what it was about. He was told that this was their job. In which case who is paying?

Here is the text of an email sent this week to the police and the Returning Officer from a block on a Cubitt Town estate:

 I am receiving complaints from neighbours that two young men are knocking on doors with official papers in their hand and leaflets from the Mayor, when challenged concerning official ID they have fled saying contact the Mayor’s Office.

I am concerned at anyone going round knocking on doors without any kind of ID saying who they are and particularly where vulnerable people are concerned.

They have just knocked on my door and I can confirm they do not display any form of ID.

Perhaps you could kindly look into this and ask the Mayor to arrange for anyone canvassing for him to display appropriate and suitable Identity.

Note that once again when challenged they referred to the Mayor’s office.

There is also concern as to the huge numbers of letters, sent out at taxpayer’s expense by the council, supposedly as a response to enquiries.

A worried voter met me to say that she had received one of these visits from two young men (they always appear to work in pairs); again they were evasive as to who they represented, mentioning “the council”. 

A little later she received a letter from a councillor from another ward, whom she had never met, and would not in any case have contacted. This claimed to be a response from an “enquiry” that the resident had raised. As the lady said to me, she knows her local councillors by name. Why, so soon after the visit of the two young men had she received this letter when she was adamant that she not raised an enquiry.

 

Worryingly, these unsolicited letters are now logged on the council’s computer system. There is evidence that the number is very high. Will these people receive another unsolicited letter at the start of the election campaign?    

What data protection is there about his? The council is a public body, often holding sensitive information about residents, what is or could be fed into these letters and indeed visits?

Political parties contact voters, and we often contact them by leaflet or letter. However, we use our own resources and voters are made aware of our affiliation. We are also subject to strict rules on data collection.

This below the radar campaigning is part of the problem of the Rahman administration. They themselves are all but personally invisible to the electorate at large. Yes, the Mayor enjoys going to organisations who are the beneficiaries of his grants programme, and who naturally are delighted to have him unveil a plaque thanking him for his generosity.

This is not to use a campaign term, “pumping the flesh”. Nobody sees him on an actual doorstep or handing out leaflets on a street corner.

As for his candidates, there was a classic example this week.

The Mayor attended the new site of the traffic light tree sculpture close to Billingsgate Market. Naturally, he arrived in the taxpayer funded car, which promptly parked in the McDonald’s customer car park, using up a customer parking space.

From where Lutfur Rahman posed for a photograph, in front of Billingsgate Market, the town hall can easily be seen. It is a walk of three four minutes at the most. Had he walked it, he would have passed actual voters.

With him, in the car, was his media guru Mohammed Jubair and former councillor, Mohammed Shahid Ali, who was deselected by the Labour Party in 2010 and is apparently the Mayor’s chosen candidate for Mile End, some way from his home on the Isle of Dogs.

Perhaps Mohammed Shahid Ali needs a ride at taxpayers expense to find the ward he has been allocated? Certainly, whilst a councillor his main claim to fame was to fall asleep during a planning meeting and then vote on the matter in hand, which somewhat annoyed residents.

In conclusion, there are serious questions to be answered about these canvassers and council resources. Bluster, abuse and threats from the so called cabinet is not the way forward on this matter. It is time for others to look into the situation.

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Nigel McCollumTower Hamlets police have launched an investigation into a homophobic smear campaign against former Lib Dem councillor Nigel McCollum.

Posters appeared in bus shelters near his home in the Old Ford Road area of Bow late on Wednesday night, Thursday morning and again today. In total, about 10 have been found.

The posters, which include a recently taken photograph at him at an event in Bow attended by the Duchess of Gloucester, label him a ‘paedophile’. They gave his address and phone numbers.

They also went into more details which I’m not publishing. All are false.

He is openly gay and delivered a petition on behalf of other residents in Bow at Wednesday’s council meeting, which also heard a series of people and youngsters condemning homophobia in the borough.

Although a former Lib Dem, as regular readers of this blog will know, he is now a supporter and good friend of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The mayor has just posted comments about the incident on his blog today. That he failed to condemn the homophobic rants against Tory Peter Golds at previous council meetings in no way detracts from the gravity of his words.

Here’s what Lutfur says:

I have been appalled to learn of the quite shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s prominent and respected residents, former Lib Dem councillor, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

I understand the police have launched an immediate investigation in to who is behind the posting of deeply offensive leaflets, picturing Nigel McCollum, and claiming that he is a ‘paedophile’. These posters have been posted in and around public areas near to where Nigel lives.

Fortunately, Nigel was alerted by concerned neighbours and friends upon waking on Thursday morning.

He had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.

Both Lib Dem leader, Councillor Stephanie Eaton and I are urging the police to mount a full and thorough investigation. Both Stephanie and I wish to condemn what Nigel and ourselves believe to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that may well be politically charged. I have spoken to Nigel and offered him both our sympathy and our full support.

There can be no place for homophobia and hate in Tower Hamlets. Those who attempt to promulgate it must know that there will be consequences to their actions.

And here’s what Lib Dem councillor Stephanie Eaton says in the press release she’s just issued:

Former Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel McCollum has been the subject of anonymous smears and lies following his presentation of a petition to full council on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, a number of posters were found in Bow making untrue and homophobic accusations against Mr McCollum. The police have launched an immediate investigation in to the production of the posters, which included a recent photograph of Nigel McCollum and his contact details. The posters were posted in public areas near to where Mr McCollum lives.

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Dr Stephanie Eaton said: “I am appalled to learn of the shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s respected residents, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night. Nigel McCollum had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.

Nigel and I believe this to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that is aimed at stopping him from continuing his political activities. To post anonymous homophobic attacks about a resident and former councillor simply because he has raised legitimate questions about public spending is cowardly and unacceptable. It is an attack on all people involved in local politics, and one which has the potential to deter LGBT people from public service.

There can be no place for homophobia in Tower Hamlets and in Tower Hamlets politics.”  

Notes for Editors

Nigel McCollum was a Tower Hamlets Councillor from 2002-2006 representing the ward of Bow East. He is a gay man in a long term relationship with his partner.

In 2005/2006 Nigel McCollum was subjected to anonymous hate mail making similar homophobic accusations. At the same time anonymous defamatory statements were also circulated to the Police, media and local politicians. The intimidation and harassment was a key reason in Nigel’s decision not to stand for re-election in 2006. As soon as this decision was announced, the harassment stopped.

Whether it was politically motivated or just some evil idiot with another grudge should be easy to prove. Plenty of CCTV in the area in question.

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This is the list of questions to be posed to Mayor Lutfur Rahman by Peter Golds’. His group’s proposed motions for the council to consider are underneath.

Cllr Tim Archer

Will the Mayor please outline how his “Community Champions” were selected, and what steps were taken to ensure they were representative of the entire Tower Hamlets community?

Cllr David Snowdon

A number of new parking spaces have recently been marked out on Westferry Road opposite the Clifton Restaurant and Supermarket. Cllr Davis and I have had a large number of complaints that cars parking in these spaces have led to reduced visibility for cars turning off and onto Westferry Road.

Will the Mayor explain as to whose instigation were these parking spaces marked out?

Cllr Peter Golds

The 4th November Edition of East End Life contained on pages 16 and 17 what can only be described as a Council-paid advert for the administration.

Will the Mayor give an undertaking to pay to Tower Hamlets the commercial rate for this double page spread, not least as the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, which received an unopposed second reading in the House of Commons, will soon receive Royal Assent and the Secretary of State will be legally empowered to direct the closure of East End Life?

Cllr Dr Emma Jones

Will the Mayor tell me how much was spent on this year’s Borough Fireworks display, and why once more no outside sponsorship was sought?

Cllr Zara Davis

What steps is the Mayor taking to ensure that Isle of Dogs residents do not suffer increased aircraft noise pollution as a result of the works proposed in the two major London City Airport planning applications recently submitted?

Cllr Gloria Thienel

Will the Mayor confirm for how long Social Care visits are timed within the borough?

Cllr Craig Aston

Will the Mayor indicate what actions he has taken to ensure the safety of residents and pedestrians in the vicinity of 96 Narrow Street, following the erection of hoardings across the full width of the pavement, thereby forcing pedestrians to use the road? 

Motion – Spitting and urination in public

Proposed by Cllr Gloria Thienel

Seconded by Cllr Peter Golds

This meeting of Tower Hamlets Council expresses concern at the increase of spitting and public urination which is turning many of the borough’s streets and open spaces into serious health hazards.

The council condemns those whose anti social habits damage the health and environment of our public spaces.

This council resolves that those responsible for enforcement should undertake that existing laws and by laws are observed through penalty charges and where necessary, the prosecution of offenders.

Motion – Registered social landlords

Proposed by Cllr Peter Golds

Seconded by Cllr David Snowdon

This meeting of Tower Hamlets Council supports the principles of the Freedom of Information Act, allowing the press and public to find out how Government and councils behave, and spend taxpayers’ money.

This council notes that whereas Registered Social Landlords, according to the High Court,  “work side by side with, and can in a very real sense be said to take the place of, local authorities”,they are not currently subject to FOI requests.

This council believes Freedom of Information Act should be extended to cover Registered Social Landlords.

Therefore, in the absence of current legislation, The council resolves to work with local RSL’s to encourage them to adopt the Freedom of Information Act principles on a voluntary basis.

Motion – Commercial events in borough’s public parks

Proposed by Cllr Tim Archer

Seconded by Cllr David Snowdon

This meeting of Tower Hamlets Council recognises the vital importance of public available green spaces and parks within the borough.

This council reiterates that this is a vital community asset within Tower Hamlets, where many residents do not have their own gardens.

This council reaffirms that our parks are much loved and appreciated by residents and therefore reject the unfortunate comments made by Councillors Shahid Ali and Rania Khan directed at those residents of the borough who are concerned about the preservation and enhancement of the borough’s parks.

The council congratulates residents of the Isle of Dogs who have come together to form The Friends of Island Gardens, a genuinely community based organisation dedicated to preserve this oasis, situated on the World Heritage buffer zone opposite Greenwich Palace and encourages other residents to get together to support their local parks.

The council reaffirms that primarily, parks are for people, and therefore opposes the increased use of our parks for commercial events, such as those that affect Victoria Park during the summer holidays ; and opposes the loss of park land to new developments.

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