Fall-out over budget meeting continues as Respect chair accuses Labour of “anti-Muslim” slurs

The chair of the Tower Hamlet’s Respect Party today accused Labour councillors of making “anti-Muslim” slurs at last Wednesday’s budget meeting.

As councillors discussed �55m worth of cuts to public services, Labour councillor Anna Lynch alleged that a member of the public gallery had made a homophobic remark.

She later said she had been verbally threatened by a young man and when he refused to leave the meeting, Labour chair Motin Uz-Zaman took the decision to ask the public to leave.

But Respect chair Carole Swords today said that “completely unjustified accusations” had been levelled against Muslim members of the gallery and that no council officers present had heard the alleged remarks.

She said: “Labour is motivated by a desire to smear sections of the Muslim community who do not support Labour and the mayor and his administration.”

Brick Lane restaurateur Shiraj Haque was originally identified by the chair as the man who threatened Ms Lynch.

This led to uproar from a small group in the public gallery.

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One of the men around him, Respect Party activist Mahbub Alam, 35, of Tarbert Walk, Shadwell said Mr Uz-Zaman had lost control of the meeting in a letter to the council’s chief legal officer, Isabella Freeman, seen by the East London Advertiser today.

He said: “[The chair] indiscriminately chose members of the public to evict. “The meeting descended into a travesty due to the actions of councillor Lynch.

“I have attended many council meetings and have never witnessed such mischievous behaviour from a councillor.”

The subject of the alleged remark, councillor Peter Golds, today said that he was gathering responses from fellow council members as to what had been said.

He also said he was planning on reporting the matter to the police.

Speaking at the end of last week, Labour councillor Josh Peck said members on both Labour and Tory sides of the chamber were clear that a homophobic remark had been made.

Ms Lynch was not available for comment today.