Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Tower Hamlets Council – another day, another formal complaint for Mayor Lutfur Rahman

By on August 27, 2014 in News, Politics, Tower Hamlets council

Residents of Tower Hamlets use lots of interesting adjectives to describe the current administration of their local council.

Few of them are printable. ‘Tiresome’ is one word that is.

For some reason the current Tower Hamlets First administration led by Mayor Lutfur Rahman seems to think it exists in its own little world where it can make up the rules as it goes along in order to serve its own personal interests. Annoying little details such as democratic process and freedom of the press are brushed aside. Or so Tower Hamlets Council would like to think.

Press freedom in Tower Hamlets

Ted Jeory gives the thumbs up.

Ted Jeory gives the thumbs up.

Blogger and Sunday Express journalist Ted Jeory has been an observer of East End politics for many years. Without his work many of the more unusual activities of Mayor Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets First would remain secret. Mayor Lutfur’s spin doctor Takki Sulaiman is not an admirer of Ted Jeory’s work. On more than one occasion Ted’s news stories have led the Tower Hamlets Council Head of Communications to stamp his foot. Sometimes both feet.

An excellent example of this is a news story by Ted Jeory regarding the £123,000 charged by lawyers and PR gurus to Takki Sulaiman for trying to stop the broadcast of the BBC Panorama documentary about Mayor Lutfur. (Tower Hamlets residents please note – that is your £123,000.)

So it was no major surprise when Mr Sulaiman had Mr Jeory frogmarched from a Tower Hamlets council meeting a couple of months ago for calling him a prick. To quote Mr Jeory:

“He [Takki Sulaiman] and I have a long history. He dislikes my journalism and I dislike his attitude to press freedom.

I’ve covered Tower Hamlets for nine years now and in that time I’ve seen a gradual erosion in the access afforded to reporters wishing to cover council meetings. That erosion didn’t start with Takki’s management of the communications department, but he has contributed to its acceleration.”

Ted is of the opinion that in the past Mr Sulaiman tried to get him sacked from the Sunday Express and in 2011 ordered the removal of the reporter’s table from the council chamber. The removal of the reporter’s table might seem a minor detail but in practice it makes journalist’s work more difficult as they have to report from the public gallery of the council chamber. (The table has recently been restored.) And the symbolism is obvious.

Rude words

Most grown ups accept the occasional exchange of rude words as part of working life, but not Mr Sulaiman. Or so he would have us think.

Takki Sulaiman

Takki Sulaiman

More likely is that Mr Sulaiman saw this incident as an excuse to further restrict the ability of Ted Jeory to report on Tower Hamlets council. Without Ted Jeory in the council chamber few borough residents would ever know the reality of a Tower Hamlets council meeting.

The ‘Prick Incident’ was a blatant attempt by Mr Sulaiman to restrict the ability of the free press to report on the workings of Tower Hamlets council. This cannot be allowed.

Prick Incident correspondence timeline

As Tower Hamlets residents say, tiresome behaviour.

Mayor Lutfur in Whitechapel

Mayor Lutfur in Whitechapel

Complaint to Local Government Ombudsman

This morning 27th August 2014 I have filed a formal complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman alleging that Tower Hamlets council has failed to investigate my complaint. All I want Mayor Lutfur’s crew to do is what they are legally obliged to.

But then that doesn’t happen very often. As the Tower Hamlets First administration ignores requests from the DCLG, I doubt if the rest of us have a chance.

Or do we? Let’s see.

UPDATE 14:49 hours

Please see comment by Ted Jeory below.

 

 

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  1. Ted Jeory says:

    Thanks Mark.
    According to the LBTH complaints process, officers are required to reply to your Stage 1 complaint within 10 working days.

    See here: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/council_and_democracy/complaints.aspx

    It’s now 55 working days since you complained. If they’ve not replied, and given you’ve sent reminders to the very top, it’s most likely a wilful refusal.

    They know that Takki’s email to you contained a blatant ‘mislead’.

    One wonders whether his mistake is being ‘protected’.

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