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Lutfur Rahman's councillors storm out over High Court ruling on Tower Hamlets council audit

PUBLISHED: 09:19 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 15:40 11 September 2014

Empty seats... Tower Hamlets First group members walk out over High Court council audit issue, as Tory leader Peter Golds (left) continues to talk, with the mayor also absent

Empty seats... Tower Hamlets First group members walk out over High Court council audit issue, as Tory leader Peter Golds (left) continues to talk, with the mayor also absent

TH Tory group

Members of controversial Mayor Lutfur Rahman's Tower Hamlets First party staged a walk-out at last night's Tower Hamlets council meeting over attempts to discuss an audit of Town Hall spending ordered by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

Tower Hamlets town hallTower Hamlets town hall

The walk-out came during an emergency resolution tabled by the Tory Opposition calling for an investigation into why the Mayor went to the High Court to challenge the audit.

His bid for a judicial review was thrown out.

The 18 rebel councillors refused to take part in any debate after advice that the issue was “sub judice” and would put anyone making public statements at risk of being “in contempt of court” and even facing prison.

But Tory leader Peter Golds held firm and kept it strictly to demands that the council’s overview committee looks at the “costly process” of going to court, removing references going into the legal argument about the audit itself.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman (left) and Communities Secretary Eric PicklesMayor Lutfur Rahman (left) and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

“The attempts at judicial review have cost East End taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds,” Cllr Golds said afterwards.

“It’s only right to look at how this decision was made, given it was dismissed as ‘hopeless’.

“Mayor Rahman and his (independent) councillors once again refused any idea of transparency.”

The meeting was suspended for 10 minutes during the walk-out while the Speaker took his own legal advice.

It resumed with Tory and Labour councillors voting for an investigation.

“They left their seats empty rather than discuss the issue,” Cllr Golds added. “It’s outrageous for elected councillors to refuse to discuss these important issues.

“Mayor Rahman can run—but he can’t hide.”

The council has formally applied to the High Court for an oral hearing before a judge to challenge the decision to bring in auditors to examine Town Hall spending, the Mayor’s office confirmed on Friday.

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