Local MP Jim Fitzpatrick today described current Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur's Rahman's silence in the wake of serious allegations about his re-election campaign, as "a total insult to residents".
Over six weeks ago councillors put a series of questions to Lutfur Rahman following allegations from residents that his canvassing team had been claiming to be staff of Tower Hamlets Homes (THH). The Mayor sat for over an hour in silence, refusing to answer any of the allegations. A subsequent investigation from THH recently reported that there was no evidence their staff had conducted any canvassing for Lutfur Rahman strengthening the worry that the canvassers were impersonating housing staff in order to mislead voters and capture valuable contact and personal details they may not have offered to political campaigners.
Lutfur Rahman has also repeatedly refused to explain how he funds his re-election campaign. Despite having held many expensive events over the last months he has only ever made one declaration to the electoral commission. Labour also said that they had been told by independent sources that the Mayor pays his canvassing team, which would be another significant undeclared expense costing tens of thousands of pounds which would be well beyond even the big established political parties.
Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Jim Fitzpatrick, said:
"Lutfur Rahman's silence is a disgrace. He was elected to serve the residents not ignore them. Refusing to speak in the face of these kind of legitimate concerns not only makes people think he is guilty but is a total insult to residents.
“There are three questions Lutfur Rahman needs to answer.
“First, whether any paid canvassing is being done by his campaign - we have been told that it is although he denies it. He needs to come clean both about this and where the money is coming from.
“Second, whether he can guarantee that none of his canvassers have pretended to be Council or Tower Hamlets Homes representatives - the statements by members of the public are clear that they have and he needs to condemn this and be open with the police about such activity, which is clearly unlawful.
“And third, whether there has been any inappropriate use of council resources - for example by using council premises, computers or staff to manage his campaign. He needs to show some leadership and authority and make it clear that any such behaviour is unacceptable and stop it from happening. Otherwise he is using taxpayers - your - money to try to buy his re-election.”
John Biggs, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said today:
“It is a shame that Lutfur Rahman won’t come clean and answer these basic questions. For as long as he does this it looks as if he has something to hide. As a man who thinks he should lead our community he should do better than that.”