The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has denied claims from a former deputy mayor that he was Islamophobic and sexist, saying “they have no substance”.
Shiria Khatun made the allegations about John Biggs following a disagreement about her roles on the executive of the council.
She claimed Biggs often made Islamophobic comments and that “he has become a bully”. She said: “He is a man who does not keep his word. He lies. I was pushed to resign.”
Biggs said of Shiria Khatun’s claims: “The claims made by Cllr Khatun in my view have no substance but if she feels they do she must make a formal complaint and this must be properly and independently investigated.”
Khatun said that she had resigned from her role in the Labour executive and cabinet but would continue to serve as a councillor for the Lansbury ward.
She held two executive posts as cabinet member for community safety and community cohesion until earlier this year.
She told Eastlondonlines that she was brought into the mayor’s office and told she was going to be removed from one of those positions, community safety. However, at the council’s Annual General Meeting held on May 17, 2017, she says she was removed from both her posts.
She said: “He said he would remove me from community safety, which I accepted, but not cohesion. He wanted me to do waste management instead and said he would get another cabinet member to help me. This made me feel inadequate because I am a senior member. Why would I need someone else to help me?”
Biggs, while not commenting directly on how Khatun came to stop doing the roles, told Eastlondonlines: “While I am grateful for her work, during the past year it became apparent to me, and others, that the community safety portfolio required a new approach. It is regrettable that Shiria has decided to act in this way.
“For the record I am committed to treating all members of my group fairly and thoughtfully. I am also committed to improving the position and opportunities for women in our community. It is of note that five of my nine cabinet members are women with four of the nine roles held by BME members.”
Khatun will remain a councillor and plans to continue supporting Labour, like she has done for the past 12 years. “I intend to keep standing up for people’s rights,” she said.