Mayor breaks silence and denies 'fraudulent' vote canvassing
PUBLISHED: 15:36 02 December 2013 | UPDATED: 15:45 02 December 2013
The mayor of Tower Hamlets has denied allegations that he is using council money to pay door-to-door canvassers to campaign for his re-election.
The denial comes after a probe was launched into reports of canvassers posing as Tower Hamlets Homes officers and handing out his election leaflets.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman dismissed the claims as “smears” in a statement on November 29, breaking the silence he has kept since the council voted to support the investigation.
Mr Rahman said: “These allegations are absolutely false. Labour’s campaign in 2010 was entirely based on smears, innuendos and outright lies.
“They’re doing the same again because they’ve got nothing to offer the people of Tower Hamlets.”
The mayor also denies that his canvassers claimed to be from Tower Hamlets Homes, according to a spokesman for the mayor’s office.
Police say they are looking into the matter following an inquiry by the Labour party.
The vote at the full council meeting on November 27 followed an emergency motion by Labour Cllr Rachel Saunders, who asked the mayor whether he employs canvassers and if so how they are paid.
The mayor refused to comment or respond during the council debate, but broke his silence with this public statement two days later.
Cllr Alibor Choudhury, an Independent councillor and ally of the mayor, said: “The mayor is proud to have the support of young people who are interested in helping their local area. All parties use volunteers to support their work.”
He said the mayor’s volunteers “have knocked on thousands of doors in the last year” but said that no council resources were involved.
Cllr Choudhury added that the canvassing claims were made by the blog LoveWapping, which he said has supported Labour’s mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets, John Biggs.
Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, called the mayor’s statement “the most feeble denial possible”.
He said: “Lutfur Rahman should come clean and answer the serious questions hanging over the conduct and financing of his re-election campaign.”