Tower Hamlets mayor election rivals in tug-of-war as ‘breach of protocol’ row erupts
- Credit: Mike Brooke & LBTH
Two rival opposition leaders on Tower Hamlets Council vying to be mayor in May’s local elections have had their first spat days after their political groups each gained official Electoral Commission recognition.
Rabina Khan and Ohid Ahmed—both competing against Labour’s John Biggs—nearly came to blows over a tug-of-war with pensioners at the Glamis Hall community centre in Shadwell.
Cllr Ahmed walked into the hall to meet pensioners over the future of another community centre half-a-mile away in Wapping, Raine’s House, only to be confronted by Cllr Khan holding her weekly surgery.
One pensioner said she was grabbed by the arm as the two started a shouting match at each other.
Cllr Ahmed stormed out, taking the petition the pensioners had given him back to the town hall.
You may also want to watch:
Cllr Khan, running for mayor for her People’s Alliance, called a news conference later where she slammed the rival Aspire party candidate, claiming he broke protocol by disrupting her surgery session.
“I was shocked to see Cllr Ahmed talking to my residents and then walking out with them,” she fumed. “No-one should walk into a surgery and cause distress.
- 1 It's been a busy week at Leyton Orient with plenty of signings expected
- 2 Tributes paid after Tower Hamlets councillor dies at 40
- 3 Leyton Orient linked with Omar Beckles, Connor Wood and Paul Smyth
- 4 Drivers fight Tower Hamlets for years over 'clamping on private land'
- 5 Docklands man pleads guilty to firearms offences
- 6 Plans mooted to change East End MP constituency boundaries
- 7 Search is on for next Tower Hamlets Freedom of the Borough award recipient
- 8 Golfer to visit Canary Wharf on 'world's longest golf hole challenge'
- 9 Thunderstorms, heavy rain forecast as Met Office issues yellow warnings
- 10 Waste bin by the Thames used as 'lifebuoy' to save marine life
“He shouted and wagged his finger. I told him I would call the police and report him to the election monitoring officer.”
But Cllr Ahmed hit back, accusing Rabina of blowing the incident out of proportion.
He tells tomorrow’s East London Advertiser: “It’s very childish what she’s done. I didn’t want to take it serious—but she went to the press.
“I never knew Cllr Khan was holding a weekday surgery and just went to Glamis Hall to pick up the petition when Rabina came out shouting and screaming—I didn’t break any election protocol.”
But Cllr Khan, who runs weekly surgeries at Glamis Hall, claims he staged the incident with two of his fellow Aspire councillors, having met the pensioners at Wapping the day before “when he could have been handed their petition”.
She insisted: “Ahmed’s behaviour is unacceptable. Candidates should be able to campaign free from harassment.”
She is sensitive about “security” since the murder of MP Jo Cox in 2015 who lived in Wapping, a mile from Glamis Hall.
Cllr Khan confirmed to the Advertiser today that she has formally lodged a complaint to police and is waiting to be interviewed and has also informed the town hall’s election monitoring officer.
Her People’s Alliance and Cllr Ahmed’s Aspire group were each formally recognised as political parties by the Electoral Commission before Thursday’s clash, to fight May’s local elections for mayor and council.
Both have had links with ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman who was barred from office in the High Court in 2015 for election fraud and malpractice the year before. Rabina Khan was lead member on housing in his cabinet.
Ohid Ahmed has been a visible Rahman supporter since 2010, backing his successful bid to be Tower Hamlets’ first elected executive mayor. Rahman is currently endorsing Ohid’s campaign for mayor in May and has appeared on his 2018 election leaflets.