'Blackshirt' slur against mourning ex-Mayor sees Tower Hamlets councillor gagged
PUBLISHED: 14:40 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 18:21 28 February 2014
EXCLUSIVE: A verbal attack on a grieving former mayor of Tower Hamlets comparing her to Oswald Mosely's fascist Blackshirts has seen a senior councillor banned from speaking at a council meeting.
Cllr Alibor Choudhury, cabinet member for resources, was gagged by the council after his public outburst against Cllr Ann Jackson, and Labour have called for him to make a public apology.
Cllr Choudhury, speaking at Wednesday’s council budget meeting about Cllr Jackson, is reported to have said: “Oswald Mosely had his Blackshirts, John Biggs has his ‘Black Cardigans’!”
The “astonished” Bow West councillor was wearing black in mourning for her ex-husband, whose funeral was this week and who is father of her children.
The council voted to pass a motion that Cllr Choudhury “be not further heard”, meaning his right to speak at the meeting was removed.
Labour said it would be raising a formal complaint against Cllr Choudhury over his conduct.
Cllr Jackson, who served as mayor in 2007, said: “I was astonished. I made an effort to attend a crucial budget council 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.”
Last week Cllr Choudhury, who is an independent councillor for Shadwell, reported Labour mayoral candidate John Biggs to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for remarks Cllr Choudhury called racist.
Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “Comparing a grieving councillor to a racist Blackshirt is deeply offensive and totally beyond the pale.
“If Alibor Choudhury has any integrity what so ever he will publicly apologise for his comments and the distress they have caused.”
Cllr Choudhury was unavailable for comment at time of press.
A spokesman for Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s office said: “The Labour and Tory groups used their majority in the council chamber to stop the lead member for finance from speaking for part of the budget meeting.
“This is how the Tower Hamlets Labour-Tory coalition stifles dissent.”
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.