Senior political figures George Galloway MP and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone last night spoke out in defence of controversial Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Around 1,000 people attended a rally arranged by Organisation for Democracy and Freedom at The Waterlily in Whitechapel.
The event involved a number of speakers from groups including Left Unity who defended the Mayor against what they said was “nothing short of a political attack on a council that has done so well”.
The report stated he had failed to provide taxpayers with “value for money” after giving grants to Bangladeshi and Somali-led organisations, which were ‘potentially fraudulent.’ Speaking in the House of Commons afterwards, Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local governmentcondemned the “culture of cronyism” in the borough and has sent in commissioners to to the council to oversee aspects of its work.
Galloway told ELL: “There is absolutely nothing substantial in the report. It’s a political set-up. The report found that there are weaknesses, just like there are weaknesses in any big administration that employs a large number of people…you only need to look at the British Parliament with MPs fiddling their expenses. But dishonesty and impropriety – absolutely not.”
Addressing the meeting Ken Livingstone said: “Lutfur’s record is outstanding, and it is a record any Labour authority in Britain should be proud of. It’s a lot better than many Labour councils up and down the country.”
“And yes there are problems. PricewaterhouseCoopers identified problems. But they didn’t identify any problems with the world’s bank. I say this to Lutfur: fight on all fronts, get a bloody good lawyer and take Eric Pickles to court.”
Rahman was elected as a Labour councillor in 2002. He was removed as the party’s candidate for the Tower Hamlets mayoral election of 2010 after allegations that Rahman had signed up fake members in order to win the Labour nomination. Rahman subsequently won the election as an Independent candidate.