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

Mayor Rahman refutes Cllr. Golds allegations of homophobia

By on November 21, 2014 in News, Tower Hamlets council

Lutfur Rahman has denied Cllr. Peter Golds allegations that the Mayor’s supporters indulge in racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse as previously reported on Love Wapping.

Mr. Angry of Whitechapel writes

In an angry letter to Cllr. Golds (see below) the embattled Mayor states that “I absolutely deny that I have ‘done nothing’ in response to colleagues and supporters of mine have hurled vile abuse” and accuses Cllr. Golds of slander and libel in the letter published on Love Wapping.

Our Mayor may be a bit peeved that the letter was published here before the Mayor got it. Just can’t trust the post nowadays can you?

Talking of letters and the Mayor reminds me of the nice letters he sent me after I had an usual visit from three mystery ladies who said they worked for Tower Hamlets Homes but gave me literature from the Mayor’s office and asked how the Mayor could help me?

(Can’t say anymore about Greenbankgate due to the ongoing police investigation.)

Rude, untrue and not nice

What I can say is that this author has personal experience of Mayor Lutfur’s supporters being a tad rude.

On the first occasion Cllr. Alibor Choudhury (Cabinet Member for Resources) accused me of ‘perving’ which was untrue not nice.

On the second occasion one of the Mayor’s supporters called me a ‘paedophile’ to my face which was both untrue and not nice at all.

First time Cllr. Choudhury made the mistake of saying not very nice things on camera, second time the Mayor’s supporter made his comment  just when I happened to be standing next to a plain clothes police officer. Oops!

Note to Mayor’s supporters – The tricky thing about policemen wearing plain clothes is that you can’t tell they are police officers! Weird innit?

Have to admit that I have not publicly reported the second of these two incidents before as it happened during the Tower Hamlets elections in May and I did not wish to risk elevating tension in the borough even more.

Silly really come to think of it as I have photos too! [Note to self – publish this story in memoirs if not sooner.]

East End street fight

To those not familiar with the street fight that passes for local politics in Tower Hamlets I should add some more context for at least one of the names mentioned by Cllr. Golds.

As ever when I just can’t be bothered to write anymore I will copy some words from the inimitable Ted Jeory.

In a post on Trial by Jeory entitled ‘ Descent into the lawless Wild West’  written in December 2010 he gives this eye witness account of one incident in the Council chamber mentioned in the letters.

“Directly behind me was millionaire housing association tenant and main Lutfur Rahman supporter Shiraj Haque, who, because council chairman Cllr Motin uz Zaman was too weak or terrified to control, spent the entire evening: a) eating crisps; b) playing with and talking into his mobile phone; c) insulting me, Andrew Gilligan and everyone bar Lutfur and his supporters; and d) displaying the kind of political naivety that I’m sure made even Lutfur cringe.

Here are just a few of the things Shiraj bawled out:

“One Mayor, one borough, he will do anything he likes”; “Peter [Golds], get out of the borough, you can rent one of my flats”; “Peter, are you going on a honeymoon with Jim Fitzpatrick?”; and heckling during a discussion on investment strategies, “I can give you a better rate of interest if you invest in me”.

At no stage was he told to shut up. Respect chair Carole Swords may have an opinion on this: she’s currently banned from the public gallery for one heckle too many.

In contrast, Lutfur himself, sitting on the dais next to chief executive Kevan Collins, maintained a semblance of dignity – even as his young four-strong cabinet displayed a mixture of embarrassing inexperience and bungling incompetence. Lutfur needs to have a word with his kindergarten crew and tell them to dodge Labour’s poison bullets, stop the childish name-calling and forget the threatening finger-wagging: they’re meant to be in charge now and they need to earn respect.”

While you are reading the original blog post you might as well read the rest of Trial by Jeory. Better read than you will ever get here – Ted really tells it as it is.

Talking of good reads why not try Ken’s friends in the East by the Evening Standard’s Stephen Robinson. This also mentions the incident detailed by Ted Jeory above and has some good context relating to this whole issue.

 Text of letter from Mayor Lutfur Rahman to Cllr. Peter Golds.

Dear Mr. Golds,

I chose my words carefully too. You did slander me and you have now libelled me in your letter, published on a local website – http://lovewapping.org/2014/11/mayor-lutfur-rahman-attempts-to- bend-the-truth-again/ – before I have even received it.

I absolutely deny that I have ‘done nothing’ in response to colleagues and supporters of mine have hurled vile abuse.

On the first occasion in which it is alleged that Mr Haque heckled the meeting, heckling is fairly commonplace at Town Hall meetings. I did not hear his alleged remarks, being the furthest from the public galley one could possibly be. If he made the remark about going on a honeymoon with the local MP, that could be deeply offensive in context and it was very wrong. But I cannot see how the other remarks about flats and investment strategies can be considered homophobic.

In respect of the two meetings in February 2011, again I did not hear the remarks from the public gallery and from my recollection neither did officials seated in the gallery.

On the final incident, I certainly did not see anyone bawl the obscenity you mention at you. My recollection of that meeting was that you left the room and then returned having been informed by a third party that a member of the public had made such a remark.

The picture you paint of my supposed indifference to such abuse is deeply offensive. The tactic of ‘he refused to condemn’ is an old one in politics. The remarks were allegedly made not in any meeting I preside over, but in Full Council which at the time was controlled by the then majority Labour group. It was not my job to condemn the remarks and discipline the individuals but that of the Speaker of the Council and it is my recollection that he did so. I was not about to comment from the floor of the chamber on remarks allegedly made I had not even heard! But when the allegations were made clear to me afterwards I took them extremely seriously to the point of calling in police.

It is also offensive for you to tar me with this alleged bigotry by suggesting the culprits are supporters of mine. Certainly Mr Haque has supported me and other local politicians of different parties over the years. But you do not name the individuals allegedly responsible for the other three homophobic remarks. Please do so, and provide evidence that these individuals were supporters of mine immediately. Firstly, I do not accept guilt by association- unfortunately one can find a minority of unsavoury people supporting most political parties and groupings, including your own. Secondly, if there are indeed homophobic supporters of my administration, they are clearly voting for the wrong man- the record of myself and this Council shows nothing but commitment to LGBT rights, and we are always interested to learn how we can further strengthen this.

In regards to Facebook pages; my official Facebook page is ‘Mayor Lutfur Rahman’, not as you seem to have claimed ‘We Support Lutfur Rahman.’ The official page has in excess of eight times the number of ‘likes’ that this clearly unofficial one does. On pages which I am responsible for, I would ensure that any comment promoting bigotry would be removed as soon it was identified. I would of course urge that whoever moderates the page you refer to does the same.

As for Mr Madewell you are aware that I took immediate steps to discipline him, despite his remark not having been racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic. I have never met and do not know Mr Shariff. I certainly condemn his vile utterance if indeed it is true.

I am proud of my administration’s record in support of the local gay community and I abhor homophobia. However, the inconsistencies in these allegations cannot but worry me that they may be made in bad faith to satisfy the media which enjoys writing about Asians allegedly being homophobic:

  • On 20 September 2013 a local journalist, Robin De Peyer, told listeners of a BBC radio station that you ‘complain on a regular basis about being subjected to homophobic abuse in Bengali’. If this is true, I am surprised that you know any homophobic words in Bengali. I am not even sure that I do.
  • On 26 May 2014 in another interview on a BBC radio station you repeated the allegation that he had been called ‘Zionist scum’ (as well as ‘effing old queer’) but this time he said it was not by a member of the public but by ‘one of his [my] councillors’. I do not believe this to be true because if it had been, I believe you would have reported the incident to the Council’s standards regime and I am not aware that he did so. All meetings of Council have been taped for yea Certainly, if I had seen any evidence that any such abuse had been shouted by a councillor of any grouping I would have publicly called on that councillor to resign immediately. If the allegation is indeed untrue, since you did not name the councillor he was accusing he defamed all councillors affiliated to me.
  • You have repeatedly told the media that such remarks are a ‘regular’ event at council meetings but they are alleged to have been made at only four Council meetings out of the 36 we have had since October 2010. Any abuse is too much of course, but I am sure you would not wish to mislead the public.

I have called in the police before and I will do so again if I feel there is evidence to suggest that you or anyone else has been the victim of disgusting homophobic, racist or anti-Semitic bigotry. Issues of pure heckling you must take up with the Speaker. I trust that you will cease and desist from suggesting that I have failed to act when that is clearly not the case, and from suggesting that the alleged culprits are associates of mine, a claim for which you appear to have no evidence.

Yours sincerely,

Lutfur Rahman,

Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Falling out

Let’s hope this letter is the end of the exchange – at this rate Cllr. Golds and Mayor Lutfur are at serious risk of falling out.

Now that would be a disaster for Tower Hamlets.

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