Livingstone accused of ‘incitement’ over Eric Pickles’ commissioners at Tower Hamlets

2010... Livingstone campaigs with Rahman in Brick Lane

2010... Livingstone campaigs with Rahman in Brick Lane - Credit: Archant

Ken Livingstone is being reported to Scotland Yard over calls to make life “intolerable” for government commissioners being brought in to take over Tower Hamlets’ £1.2 million budget spending.

Livingstone on a Whitechapel 'walkabout' during Rahman's 2010 election campaign

Livingstone on a Whitechapel 'walkabout' during Rahman's 2010 election campaign - Credit: Archant

The ex-London mayor urged supporters at a rally for embattled mayor Lutfur Rahman to hold demonstrations outside the homes of the audit commissioners.

He told the ‘Defend Democracy’ rally at the Waterlily in Mile End last week: “When these commissioners turn up, find out where they live and then have a peaceful demonstration outside their homes so their neighbours know these are the sort of people who turn out and overturn a democratically-elected mayor—make their lives intolerable.”

His outburst brought condemnation last night from Tower Hamlets Tory Opposition leader Peter Golds, who is writing to the Met Police accusing Livingstone of incitement.

Cllr Golds said: “Livingstone arriving and effectively inciting people to harass other people who are there to oversee the good governance of the local authority is way back into the bad days of the 1990s.

“It’s absolutely deplorable for a borough beset with problems of inequality of wealth—we need to get together to make it a better place.”

The rally with Livingstone and Respect MP George Galloway was held a week before yesterday’s deadline for Mayor Rahman to comply with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ order for the commissioners to move into the Town Hall to oversee the council’s budget for the next three years, including hiring and firing senior officers.

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Tower Hamlets has been without a controlling chief executive and other statutory senior posts for two years because of deadlock between the executive mayor and the majority of Opposition council members.

Galloway, former MP for Bethnal Green & Bow now representing Bradford West after his defeat at Poplar by Labour in 2010, described the action against Mayor Rahman as “a racist, Islam-hating witch-hunt against the most popular and best mayor in the country”.

He praised the mayor at the rally for providing free lunches for all primary school pupils in the East End and for student grants in the face of government cuts.

Anti-corruption activists in July who successfully petitioned the High Court to examine allegations of electoral fraud against the Mayor Rahman attacked Livingstrone and Galloway as “bullies”.

Andy Erlam, one of the petitioners, said: “The intervention by Livingstone and Galloway is disgraceful. Political bullying will not stop us.”

People from the Bengali and other communities, Erlham added, were turning to the petitioners and the Government with “new evidence of irregularities” about last May’s local elections which saw Rahman back in for a second term as mayor.