Claims that a group of Tower Hamlets Council employees campaigned for the Labour Party during their official working hours have been denied by the authority.
Luftur Rahman, the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, has been accused of taking a number of council employees, some of who were said to be on duty at the time, to the Labour campaign at the Leicester South parliamentary by-election in early May.
However, a spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets told EastLondonLines: “We have checked attendance records and no staff due to be working on that day were absent from their ordinary duties.”
The employees, from the councils community outreach services, were “not necessarily” working at the particular time, as they might have been part-time, the council also told The Daily Telegraph, which carried the original story.
John Williams, the council’s head of democratic services, said “staff from the youth service did attend in Leicester, but did so in their private capacity.” However, also according to the Telegraph, the council’s Tory opposition leader Peter Golds was told by Isobel Cattermole, the council’s director of children, schools and families, that “no staff were on leave” on that day.
A local television channel showed footage of Tower Hamlets council employees among a group wearing red Labour rosettes and expressing their support for Labour candidate Jon Ashworth.
Golds told the Telegraph: “It is a blatant abuse of public money for party political purposes. If a minister had taken civil servants in a coach to campaign for a political party during working hours, we would never hear the last of it. We will be sending our full dossier to the District Auditor”.
Mayor Rahman was expelled from the Labour Party due to his alleged links with Muslim extremists, the Islamic Forum of Europe, and elected as independent mayor.