Tories claim Mayor Rahman used Town Hall staff for Labour by-election campaign
PUBLISHED: 12:01 29 June 2011 | UPDATED: 10:57 30 June 2011
Critics this week are calling for a District Auditor's investigation into allegations that Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman used paid Town Hall staff to help a political by-election campaign during weekday working hours.
A coachload of Labour supporters including council staff are said to have been taken to Leicester South on April 27, a week before the by-election—which has been denied by a senior council director.
Tory Opposition group leader Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser: “This is yet another example of misuse of public money for blatant political purposes.
“We are sending all the information to the District Auditor.
“If a minister had taken civil servants in a coach to campaign for a political party during working hours, we would never hear the last of it.”
Cllr Golds had been given written assurance from the council’s Children & Schools director Isobel Cattermole that no staff were absent from normal duties.
Her June 9 letter stated: “It would be improper for them to work in political roles as part of their paid employment.
“We have checked attendance records and no staff were on leave or absent from ordinary duties that day.”
But it has since emerged that staff were in Leicester on April 27, a week before the by-election which was won by Labour’s Jon Ashworth.
An email from the council’s Democratic Services Head John Williams, sent on June 20 and leaked to the Advertiser, states: “I am advised that staff from the Youth Service did attend in Leicester an event organised by the community, but did so in their private capacity.”
The council checked staff records following the allegations. A spokesman insisted: “We’ve looked at entire 2,900-staff directorate to see if anyone was absent without leave or sick. No-one was.”
It comes two weeks after revelations that Mayor Rahman spent £100,000 of council tax on extending his offices.