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Updates at bottom of page. The precise reason for the no show by independent Mayoral candidate Rabina Khan at a hustings event in Poplar Thursday evening is still unclear after the audience was told she could not attend because of the events surrounding the ‘Leafletgate’ incidents in Wapping and Limehouse.
Despite being confirmed for the hustings at St Matthias Community Centre E14 only the previous day and being pictured with a group of striking RMT pickets in Poplar at 4.11pm earlier that afternoon there was no sign of Rabina Khan at the hustings only three hours later for the start time of 7pm.
After those candidates who had turned up were introduced to the audience one of the organisers, Sister Christine, read out a message from Rabina Khan stating that Ms. Khan was unable to attend because of events surrounding the leafletting in the borough.
The audience were baffled by this.
They asked how Rabina Khan could be prevented from attending a hustings event by something to do with electoral leaflets?
The hustings chairperson at first tried to stop Sister Christine from being questioned further but the audience was having none of it and a certain amount of heckling started.
According to the Twitter timeline (see below) one member of the audience then asked Sister Christine if the reason Rabina Khan was not at at the hustings was because she was talking to the Metropolitan Police about the leafletting issues in Wapping and Limehouse?
An embarrassed Sister Christine nodded in the affirmative.
According to one eye witness interviewed by LW Sister Christine clearly heard the question asked of her and clearly nodded in response.
Several other eyewitnesses spoken to by LW have confirmed the sequence of events described above.
After that the hustings just got on with the business at hand without Rabina Khan.
LW has tweeted @RabinaKhan several times but with no response and also emailed her campaign team for clarification.
She did tweet this message re the hustings at 10:13pm (after we had asked for clarification):
“Sorry to miss Poplar hustings earlier, unfortunately had an emergency. Sounds like went well – please direct any of your questions to me!”
Emergency? This is clearly at odds with the reason given at the hustings. Maybe it was a leaflet emergency?
We have also contacted New Scotland Yard to see if they can throw any light on this.
Key tweets at Poplar hustings event after independent Mayoral candidate Rabina Khan fails to appear
While some might like to jump to conclusions it would be wrong to do so.
Firstly we should wait to hear from Ms. Khan herself as to where she was.
We will be more than pleased to publish any response received.
Also if it is confirmed that Rabina Khan was indeed talking to the Metropolitan Police about ‘Leafletgate’ this is not surprising as canvassers in both incidents at Wapping and Limehouse were distributing leaflets on her behalf.
The odd thing is the timing.
Local hustings are very important for any Mayoral candidate and it is difficult to understand why the ex-Mayor’s preferred candidate could not delay any conversations with the Metropolitan Police or anyone else until the next day.
Why the rush?
This post will be updated with more information as we get it.
UPDATE 10.30AM 29 May 2015
Rabina Khan has replied to our requests for clarification on why she missed the hustings last night.
Statement by Rabina Khan
“I am quite taken aback by all the fuss surrounding the events of last night.
I want to make clear that I have not been interviewed by police, despite the bizarre smears circulating on Twitter.
A close family member had an emergency I had no choice but to attend to.
By the time I was on my way back from the hospital, it was too late to make it to hustings, I made a brief appearance at a meeting near where I live.
It was a shame to miss the Poplar hustings. I sent apologies to Sister Christine in advance and encourage anyone who was there to pass their questions on to me.”
Leaflets – mentioned or not mentioned?
While it is great to get a response from Rabina it does not completely clarify the issue. LW spoke to five different people who attended the hustings and they all recounted the events as detailed above.
Key to this is if the leaflets were mentioned in Rabina Khan’s message of apology.
Sounds trivial, but the devil is in the detail.
Below are follow up questions to Rabina Khan, will update when response to these questions received.
- The announcement that you would not be attending made no mention of you having to attend any family emergency.
- The message delivered by Sister Christine specifically mentioned that the reason you were unable to attend was because of events surrounding leafletting in the borough.
- If a family emergency had been mentioned everyone would have immediately understood, wished you well and got on with the hustings. End of story, no fuss.
- But because the leafletting issue was specifically mentioned in the message of apology the audience were confused. How could leaflets stop you from attending a hustings?
- The audience then asked if you were talking to the police about the leafletting issues – to be fair hardly a wild assumption – and Sister Christine clearly indicated that this was the case.
- So it comes down to if your message of apology mentioned the leafletting issue. Did it?
Update 11:04AM 29 May 2015
“At [a] loss as to how leaflets even came into this”
Further response from Rabina Khan:
“I didn’t say anything about leaflets to Sister Christine when I sent my apologies and I’m at loss as to how leaflets even came into this. I’ve attached my correspondence with her on the matter.”
Below is a screenshot Rabina kindly provided us of a message from Sister Christine.
- Rabina Khan is denying any mention of the leaflet issue in her message.
- Sister Christine seems to be supporting Rabina and says that “you sent your apology earlier and I understood you had an emergency”.
- New Scotland Yard state that no person was interviewed under caution or arrested last night in relation to any of the issues surrounding the Tower Hamlets elections.
So what did happen?
Did you attend the Poplar hustings?
It would be of great benefit to LW if anyone who attended the Poplar hustings last night could contact us with their version of events.
Please email hello[at]lovewapping[dot]org or use the contact form.