BBC slams Lutfur Rahman over ‘political’ use of Panorama interview video

Mayor Lutfur Rahman campaigning in Stepney on Saturday

Mayor Lutfur Rahman campaigning in Stepney on Saturday - Credit: Archant

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC has accused the mayor of Tower Hamlets of breaking an agreement to not use his own footage of his Panorama interview for “political campaigning”.

Panorama said its crew had been “surprised” to find Mayor Lutfur Rahman had brought a separate cameraman to film the interview, but allowed this second recording to be made - as long as it was only for the mayor’s records.

Now the BBC says the mayor’s plans to release this footage to the public, revealed by the Advertiser last week, would be a breach of this agreement.

The row comes after a team of government-appointed auditors visited the Town Hall on Friday to launch an investigation into allegations of “mismanagement and fraud” at the council.

Speaking to the Advertiser, a BBC spokesman said: “We agreed with the mayor’s office in advance that they could record the interview for note-taking purposes as is normal practice.

“We were therefore surprised to arrive at the interview to find a cameraman set up to film.

“In view of what we were told was the purpose of the filming, we were disappointed to learn that the mayor is now intending to release the footage for what we would regard as political campaigning.”

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Mayor Rahman claims the BBC edited his interview unfairly to make him look bad, and says he will release his footage of the interview “at the appropriate time”.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said: “The BBC were informed a recording would be made well before the interview and no objections were received on the day or subsequently in person or in writing.

He added: “The mayor reserves the right to decide how to best use the footage and is considering a number of options.”

The mayor’s office said the filming was not paid for with council money.

Meanwhile, Takki Sulaiman, the council’s head of Communications, says he made a third recording of the interview for the council’s records.

He said: “I made an audio recording and the mayor has a video recording.”

Mr Sulaiman, who was in the room for the interview, said the Panorama production company, Films of Record, was aware of both these recordings.

He said: “As far as I know there was no written agreement between Panorama and the mayor’s office on the two recordings.”

Asked if the council would release this third recording, he said: “Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”

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