That’s Love Wapping according to Councillor Shahed Ali, Tower Hamlets First Cabinet Member for Clean & Green.
As you probably know Mr Ali is one of the 17 Tower Hamlets First councillors corruptly elected in the May 2014 local elections.
Mr Ali is also the subject of this article by Andrew Gilligan of the Daily Telegraph.
And this article ‘Council cabinet member Shahed Ali arrested on suspicion of vote fraud in Tower Hamlets’ by Ted Jeory.
And this article ‘Lutfur’s In Betweeners: Four Tower Hamlets First councillors fly to Greece to dish out advice’ also by Ted Jeory.
Shahed Ali also gets five whole paragraphs of the Electoral Petition judgment all to himself (well, almost). Here they are:
328 At this point I should mention the mysterious case of Mr Shahed Ali. He was registered as being resident at two separate addresses, Flat 38 Welstead House, Cannon Street Road, E1 2LJ and 17 Harkness House, 101 Christian Street, E1 1RX. Both these addresses were in the same division of Whitechapel Ward (WH3) whose polling station was Henry Gosling Primary School. Mr Ali, though submitting a witness statement on behalf of Mr Rahman, was not called as a witness.
329 Absent any explanation being tendered to the court, it would appear that Mr Ali had himself registered twice in the ward in which he was standing (indeed stood successfully) as a THF candidate. On the face it, both addresses cannot have met the residence test and the inescapable inference is that at least one of them is false.
330 In dealing with the case of Mr Shahed Ali, the court is in no way embarrassed by the refusal of the parties to adduce his evidence or other evidence concerning his electoral behaviour. During the course of the Scrutiny, representatives of the Metropolitan Police removed the two ballots cast from these addresses in the Mayoral election and, it is understood may have obtained by another route the ballots cast in the ward and European elections. Mr Ali was arrested but it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with an electoral offence.
331 The court, both before the hearing and at the hearing, indicated that the case of Mr Ali should be investigated and that, absent explanations being tendered, the court was entitled to draw adverse inferences from the evidence about Mr Ali’s conduct. Given the inquisitorial functions of the court, as was made clear, this was a course open to the court.
332 Were Mr Ali’s the only instance of a THF candidate being involved in an apparent false registration, the court would have hesitated to come to conclusions but, as it is, putting it at its lowest, his conduct is at least prima facie of the same pattern as that of Messrs Syed, Zaman and Ahmed.
As ever the full text of the judgement (PDF) is here on the BBC site.
Anyway as requested by Mr Ali below is the full unedited text of his email to LW today ‘In response to ‘Leafletgate’ – ex-Mayor’s Mela Message’. You can also download a PDF of the original letter here to show that it is unedited as, according to Cllr. Ali in a recent tweet:
@LoveWapping i assume you received my response and will be publishing it upon ur blog, or does it not suit your biased viewpoint?
Full text of letter from Cllr. Shahed Ali
In response to ‘Leafletgate’ – ex-Mayor’s Mela Message
Love Wapping has been quiet lively lately and probably giving Private Eye a run for its money (some may think) but just how reliable is its actual content? I refer to its latest contribution, ‘Leafletgate’ which for some reason has to be searched for rather than blazing in front of our eyes. Do not get this confused with the THH newsletter leaflet saga which is another story.
I am on my lunch break so I will quickly write this simply responding so several statements he makes – either because Mark Baynes of Love Wapping (LW) is intentionally manipulating its readers, or is simply too stupid with too much time on its hands.
LW states: “A leaflet distributed at the Boishakhi Mela in Victoria Park on Sunday 17th May 2015 (below) is dominated by a photograph of ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman and the Tower Hamlets Council logo. Photo below.”
This is not a leaflet. This is a magazine publication called ‘Darpon’ which has been in publication for several years and has nothing to do with either Tower Hamlets council, Lutfur Rahman, or the Independent group in the council. If Mark Baynes can confirm this to be a magazine, rather than his intentional mis-description of it as a leaflet, that would prove factual. You cannot give the impression a leaflet that does not exist was being distributed in favour of Lutfur Rahman or his associates.
LW states: “As reassuring as it is to know that the ex-Mayor is ‘fallen but not broken’ it is, in the light of the odd canvassing activity over the weekend in Wapping, puzzling as to how the ex-Mayor can be using a Mela publication at least part funded by Tower Hamlets Council to make us aware of this fact.”
Correction: This is not a Mela publication, it is an independent publication, therefore not funded by Tower Hamlets Council. Therefore the following statement Mark Baynes makes is also intentionally incorrect;
“1. Party political message
It seems to have been used to publish a party political message by the ex-Mayor. This, even for Tower Hamlets, is odd as the ex-Mayor has been banned from standing for political office. So who is he campaigning for? Tower Hamlets First? Odd again as this is no longer a political party, if indeed it ever was one in the first place. Could it be the ex-Mayors candidate Rabina Khan?”
David Galpin’s legal services letter is self-explanatory so I shall not dwell upon this for the moment. This then leads me into Cllr. Peter Gold’s letter. I too was at the Commissioners Decision Meeting on 13 May 2015, and spoke in support of this annual community event being given the support of the council as I believe the council should proudly be very much a partner, not just a funder, in delivering such a demonstrated successful event, second only to the annual Notting Hill Carnival. Unfortunately, Labour group leader, Cllr. Rachael Saunders and Tory group leader, Cllr. Peter Gold’s spoke passionately about why this Mela should not be supported. Cllr. Gold’s basically made the points as illustrated in his letter to Stephen Halsey dated 14th May 2015. Cllr. Saunders also made these points, but in particular, was disappointed that apparently, she felt the Mela last year, and previous years, was used by then mayor Lutfur Rahman and his group of councillors as a political platform to promote themselves. According to her statement, she implied that herself, Labour councillors and Labour politicians were left hanging around the backstage areas like lost children and not remotely given any platform whatsoever? Both strongly insisted that no further funding should be given to this year’s Mela, particularly in light of this year being during election purdah period.
For the record, the fact is that Labour MP Rushanara Ali was always given a platform to speak at previous Mela’s, along with other Labour politicians such as Ken Livingstone and Hazel Blears MP.
The following statement Mark Baynes makes is also designed to be intentionally incorrect;
“2. Council funding
The Mela is contracted out by the Council to the Boishakhi Mela Community Trust. The issues surrounding this are being addressed by Cllr. Golds.
The Mela also seems to have been hijacked as a party political vehicle by Tower Hamlets First.
The Boishakhi Mela is a fundamentally important event to our community. It’s integrity and future from political interference from any political party needs to be guaranteed. Its importance is such that it should be subsidised and managed directly by an honest Tower Hamlets Council.”
The Mela has not been hijacked as a political vehicle by Tower Hamlets First or the Independent group in the council. The Independent councillors group understand the integrity of an election purdah period. However I am afraid to admit upon this occasion that Cllr. Gold’s is actually correct to raise such concerns during this election purdah period and as such neither Independent group councillors, nor Tory councillors abused the opportunity. It was the Labour group which intentionally used this Mela as a vehicle to promote support for them in the form of Labour MP Rushanara Ali and the Speaker of the council, Cllr. Abdul Mukit MBE making speeches on stage, effectively electioneering for the forthcoming elections of 11 June. This was not an innocent mistake, they know better, especially so after Cllr. Gold’s letter raising such concerns was clearly also copied to Chris Weavers (Chair of TH Labour party), who also happens to be the husband of Cllr. Saunders, Leader of the Labour group in Tower Hamlets council – the very person who raised such concerns at the Commissioners Decision Meeting?
Can I also make clear that the views of the Commissioners were absolutely clear at the meeting? The primary reason given for their decision not to allocate further funding to this year’s Mela was the sensitivity of it being during the election purdah period. This was subsequently respected by all groups except the Labour group.
In conclusion, one may argue that Labour Mayoral candidate John Biggs did not speak, nor did Rushanara Ali or the Labour speaker specifically ask for support during their speeches. However their very long appearance on stage ( also broadcast live on television) during this sensitive election purdah period is wrong and questionable because it is absolutely clear that they were promoting and rallying support for both John Biggs for Mayor and Sabina Akhtar for Stepney Green. Statements such as “With a Labour Council we can unite for a stronger East End” clearly coincide with their verbal speeches on stage because these Labour politicians and their supporters (Agents) spent the entire day distributing the following leaflet/card;
To be distributing these cards to voters clearly asking for votes to these two Labour candidates prior to going on-stage, and immediately after coming off-stage at such a high profile event, supported by the council during election purdah period, especially so due to the sensitivity in Tower Hamlets, cannot and should not be separated if we are to believe in a free and fair society for all (pictures below clearly show these being distributed to voters at the Melaand Labour councillors roaming around unlike Cllr. Saunders assertion being otherwise stated to commissioners). I shall be taking this matter up with the relevant authorities. It cannot be one rule for us, and another rule for them – but then again, sadly that has been the pattern.
Councillor Shahed Ali.
Cabinet Member for Clean & Green.
PS: To Cllr. Gold’s: it is called a ‘Mela’, not ‘Melah’!
Response from Love Wapping
Dear Mr Ali,
We had too much time on our hands this afternoon so we hope the above is to your liking.
Tough if it ain’t.