The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman has been accused of a conflict of interest over the employment of an advisor who also works as a journalist on a television station which has been the subject of damming reports by Ofcom.
According to the Evening Standard, the journalist who produced the programmes for Walthamstow-based Channel S’s was Mohammed Jubair, who Rahman employs part-time as a personal advisor paying him £175 per day for a three day week.
The broadcast regulator Ofcom has ruled that some of its programmes about the borough were “illegal” and said that Ofcom has found that “coverage of Tower Hamlets breached broadcasting rules five times since 2008.” The most recent censure from Ofcom referred to an advertisement featuring Mr Rahman which Ofcom deemed misleading.
Television channels, unlike print media, are obliged to remain impartial in the coverage of political issues. Partial coverage of politicians is allowed in newspapers but Channel S is held to stricter rules of accountability.
Peter Golds, leader of Tower Hamlets Conservative group, told the Evening Standard: “There is a conflict of interest. Mr Jubair cannot be on the council payroll while reporting on the council.”
Ofcom have been unable to take action against Channel S because of a change in ownership. A spokesperson for Channel S said: “Channel S Television Ltd in its present form has only been trading since the end of June 2012. Everything that you mention was prior to June 2012 and I cannot comment on it as it was under different management at that time.”
When asked to repond to the report, a council spokesperson said: “Tower Hamlets is a high performing council with a good track record in issues from educational attainment, house-building, economic activity, Parks and innovation in learning and libraries, but it is also one of the most scrutinised. We have statutory duties that we are required to adhere to and we take compliance issues seriously.
“Ofcom censured the advertisers not the council. We are considering our position in respect of future advertising. It is essential the Council has the freedom to advertise services and key priorities to the local community just as other councils do.”