Tower Hamlets mayor gives character reference to jailed sexual-assault cabbie
The mayor of Tower Hamlets agreed to give a character reference to an illegal cab driver jailed for sexually assaulting a young woman – despite not knowing his charge.
Lutfur Rahman said he was deceived by the family of Zamal Uddin who told him the court case was over a driving issue, when in fact the cabbie had indecently groped a 26-year-old woman.
Mr Rahman – who is a solicitor and member of the Law Society - did not check the details, instead offering a positive reference for Uddin during his sentencing.
The predator was jailed for 18 months at Snaresbrook Crown Court on March 8.
Mr Rahman said: “Elected politicians are often approached with reference requests particularly where a family’s livelihood is at stake – however no one in the past has abused my trust in this way.
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“Had I known about the nature of the offence I would never have agreed to supply a reference.”
The mayor said he knew Uddin “as a constituent”.
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He said the family told him the cabbie was going to have his driving licence revoked because he did not have insurance, which was a one-off oversight.
Several other Tower Hamlets councillors also vouched for Uddin.
On seeing Mr Rahman’s and the other councillors’ comments, judge Timothy King slammed them as seemingly “in ignorance” of Uddin’s background and personality.
The mayor said he is getting advice to have his statement retracted and insisted he “wholly supported” the court’s judgement.
He added: “I want to make it crystal clear that I condemn all forms of criminality and my thoughts are with the victim in this case.”