Christine Shawcroft on Labour party suspension for defending Lutfur Rahman: “A travesty”

Christine Shawcroft during the Defend Democracy defending Lutfur Rahman. Pic: London Bangla TV

Christine Shawcroft during the Defend Democracy event supporting Lutfur Rahman. Pic: London Bangla TV

Christine Shawcroft says her administrative suspension as a Labour party member is “a travesty, an injustice and miscarriage of justice.”

Shawcroft, a veteran member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), will be facing an enquiry after publicly supporting the disgraced mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. She is still a party member but can’t hold any office until the resolution.

Shawcroft exclusively spoke to Eastlondonlines this morning and is certain the enquiry will lead to her expulsion: “They’ve been trying to get rid of me for a very long time. They just want ‘yes people’ and not people who are independent-minded and speak their minds. In that sense Lutfur and I are the same.”

Shawcroft gave evidence to the election court that found Rahman guilty of seven counts of electoral fraud. She defended Rahman and reportedly accused the Labour candidate, John Biggs, of making racially insensitive comments about the Bengali community.

She says Richard Mawrey QC’s judgment is “rubbish” and “got everything wrong”, and that his ruling is what has led to her suspension.

“Mawrey said that I had supported Lutfur Rahman against a Labour candidate in an election. This is not true. He doesn’t understand the difference between supporting someone in principle – saying there’s been a miscarriage of justice – and actually supporting and campaigning for them in an election. I’ve never ever done that.

“If there was a shred of evidence I had supported anyone against the Labour candidate I would have been expelled by now.”

Shawcroft was quoted as saying after the trial in which Rahman was found guilty of electoral fraud and bribery:

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the full weight of the British Establishment has come crashing down on Tower Hamlets. George Lansbury and Sylvia Pankhurst would all have found this very depressingly familiar. We will fight back and we will carry on fighting.”

Shawcroft has been a NEC member since 1999, is Secretary of Nottingham South CLP and has previously been Leader of Tower Hamlets Council Labour Group and PPC for Meriden.

Rabina Khan, a member of Tower Hamlets Council who is to stand as an independent candidate in the forthcoming mayoral by-election, told Eastlondonlines: “The suspension of Christine Shawcroft for her involvement in Tower Hamlets represents the suspension of democratic discussion at the highest levels of Labour.

“They would rather attack both their own senior members and grassroots progressive movements than focus on opposing five more years of Tory rule”.

Tower Hamlets First, the party of which Rabina Khan and Lutfur Rahman were members, was removed from the register of political parties on April 29.

Rahman was dismissed as mayor of Tower Hamlets when he was found guilty of electoral fraud and bribery in the 2014 mayoral election and was said to have been untruthful in court.

The Metropolitan Police is reviewing the 200-page judgment of the Electoral Court to determine if there are grounds for a criminal inquiry into the affairs of former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London and Labour NEC member, was also supportive of Rahman. He sent a video of support that was screened at a rally that followed Rahman’s suspension.

Livingstone told The Guardian that he’d be raising the issue at an NEC meeting today. At this moment, he does not face any disciplinary action.

Hugo Pierre, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’s candidate for Poplar and Limehouse in the recent general election, and a former Labour party member expelled in 1992, said of Shawcroft: “It is a preparatory strike from the Labour party to completely shutter the voice of the left-wing in the party.

He added: “They are hiding behind the Rahman’s story, but it’s further proof that the Labour party is getting even further away from the demands of working people”.

Eastlondonlines contacted the Labour Party, who confirmed the suspension but declined to comment on it.

Additional reporting by Katharina Schöffmann and Lauren Rickard

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