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Lutfur Ali’s resignation proves we need robust local paper

PUBLISHED: 19:54 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:44 05 October 2010

Dear Ed, THE resignation of Tower Hamlets council assistant chief executive Lutfur Ali proves yet again the need for a robust and independent local newspaper to counter the scandal that is East End Life’, the propaganda sheet that moonlighting Ali presided over

Dear Ed,

THE resignation of Tower Hamlets council assistant chief executive Lutfur Ali proves yet again the need for a robust and independent local newspaper to counter the scandal that is 'East End Life', the weekly propaganda sheet that moonlighting Ali presided over.

For it was the East London Advertiser which first highlighted in May, 2008, his dubious mastery of detail (he omitted to declare on his CV that he had been a Labour councillor), his history of failing to abide by the rules (he had to quit as a councillor after just six days when people realised he was employed in a politically restricted public sector job), and the doubts of head-hunters who were concerned he might not be up to such a senior management role.

It was also material uncovered by the Advertiser over the past four years which played such a significant part in Channel 4's Dispatches programme that led to Ali's downfall.

It will also be pressure from the Advertiser that will enlighten council taxpayers over some outstanding issues.

I hope it has more joy than I did yesterday (March 18) when, on the day after Ali's resignation, I asked press officer Sarah Gullo whether the investigation into his alleged breach of contract and gross misconduct remained open, or whether it was happy to spend £10,100 of our council tax money on his salary for every month of his outstanding notice period.

I was sent an email saying the council had never announced any such investigation. I called her up and quoted the following extract from Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan's blog: "'Any allegations of that nature will be fully investigated," [council chief executive Kevan] Collins said. "Every member of staff is under a contractual obligation to work full-time for the council unless explicitly stated otherwise.'"

Sarah told me, "If we had to rebut every inaccuracy Andrew Gilligan put out we'd be here for a very long time. The council has not made any such announcement."

Then, in a five-minute exchange, I asked Sarah the same question 15 times: 'Had Mr Collins made that statement?' I got the same reply each time, "The council has not made any such announcement."

For the record, Mr Collins' quote is on tape and indisputable.

Clearly such comical obfuscation is not Sarah's fault. Her hands are tied by her council bosses who are well used to ducking tricky questions and hiding behind spin.

I can't wait to see how 'East End Life' reports the departure of its former boss. Expect glowing tributes.

Ted Jeory

Bow

(full address supplied)


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