'I refuse to suffer in silence' says councillor getting threats on WhatsApp

Cllr Rabina Khan... faced with hate messages on WhatsApp

Cllr Rabina Khan... faced with hate messages on WhatsApp - Credit: Mike Brooke

Threatening messages on WhatsApp aiming to “take down” a Tower Hamlets councillor have been reported to police as a hate crime.  

Messages levelled against Rabina Khan in a group chat followed a debate in Parliament on the impending return of disgraced ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman and a week after the killing of Essex MP Sir David Amess in Southend. 

“I refuse to suffer in silence anymore,” Cllr Khan told the East London Advertiser. “Someone seems to think it's okay to threaten me a week after Sir David’s killing — it is not!” 

Cllr Khan, who represents Shadwell at the town hall, has decided to “call out those responsible” after being subjected to "online verbal abuse for years".  

The WhatsApp message said: “This is desperate measures (sic) from Rabina and her ‘lying together’ team. Hopefully she would be taken down in Shadwell.” 

It was posted following a Lords debate in which Lord Hayward accused Lutfur Rahman of attending an event where he discussed Tower Hamlets Carers Association "collecting” votes from elderly people.

John Biggs and Rabina Khan running neck and neck in 2015 election for mayor

John Biggs and Rabina Khan running neck and neck in 2015 election for mayor - Credit: Mike Brooke

The WhatsApp message also attacks Labour mayor John Biggs, who took over from the Rahman administration and is standing again next May.

"Kick them out," the message says. "Please get rid of them and don't vote for them. We are not stupid."

Rabina Khan... nominated at a rally in 2015 by Rahman seen with her before the split

Rabina Khan... nominated at a rally in 2015 by Rahman seen with her before the split - Credit: Mike Brooke

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Rabina was Lutfur's candidate for mayor in 2015 after he was barred from office in the High Court for five years for corrupt malpractice at the polls the year before.

The barred politician plans to run against Labour at the next elections now his ban is over, the Lords was told. 

The WhatsApp message then followed. Cllr Khan added: “I don’t know why this person associates me with Lord Hayward’s comments. I had nothing to do with the Lords debate. They have to learn to criticise without making threats."

Rabina Khan... rallying her People's Alliance after split from Rahman

Rabina Khan... rallying her People's Alliance after split from Mr Rahman - Credit: Mike Brooke

She cut her links with ex-mayor Rahman in 2016 and set up her own People’s Alliance party, which was heavily defeated in the 2018 Tower Hamlets council elections, after which she joined the Lib Dems. 

Mark Baynes, the blogger in Wapping who alerted Lord Hayward to Rahman's return, insisted it wasn't linked to Cllr Khan. He said: "The (WhatsApp) message says 'hopefully she would be taken down in Shadwell'.

"Everyone knows what is meant by ‘taken down’. The threat of violence is clear."

Scotland Yard later confirmed the matter "is being assessed" by officers from the Met’s Central East command. 

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