Tower Hamlets finance chief ‘mortified’ over Blackshirt slur on mourning ex-Mayor
PUBLISHED: 17:10 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:10 07 March 2014
A senior councillor has said he was “mortified” to learn of a former mayor’s recent bereavement after comparing her to Oswald Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts.
Cllr Alibor Choudhury, cabinet member for resources, was gagged by his fellow councillors at last week’s budget meeting over his outburst against the grieving Cllr Ann Jackson.
He has since said his remarks were “ill-advised”.
In a speech presenting the council’s budget proposals, Cllr Choudhury attacked Cllr Jackson, saying: “Oswald Mosely had his Blackshirts, John Biggs has his ‘Black Cardigans’.”
Cllr Jackson, who represents Bow West, was wearing black in mourning for her ex-husband, whose funeral was held the previous day.
Cllr Choudhury said: “The council chamber is a combative environment. I had no idea about Ann’s bereavement and I’m mortified to have offended her at such a difficult time.
“However, what was an ill-advised remark on my part should not distract from the serious matters discussed at the meeting, with the exposure of Labour’s free school meals plan as funded for only part of the academic year, and a serving Labour councillor accusing his own party of racial prejudice.”
Cllr Jackson, who served as mayor in 2007, said she was “feeling rubbish” on the day of the meeting, having been mourning with her two adult children, whose father recently died of prostate cancer aged 57.
She said: “I was astonished. I made an effort to attend a crucial budget meeting a day after a family funeral, only to be subject to this kind of baseless and abhorrent abuse.”
She added: “What really concerns me is Cllr Choudhury’s willingness to say anything to smear an opponent, no matter how false or how hurtful it might be. He’s an out and out bully.”
Jim Fitzpatrick MP blasted Cllr Choudhury as “disgusting”, adding: “I think it despicable to invoke Mosley’s hateful Blackshirts.”
Oswald Mosely was leader of the British Union of Fascists, whose members - nicknamed Blackshirts for their uniforms - marched through the East End in the 1930s attacking Jewish people.