Asik Rahman, Labour Party candidate in the Shadwell by-election, has brought to LW’s attention a Daily Mail article alleging that Cllr. Ehtasham Haque made anti-Semitic and conspiracy theorists comments online last year.
During our subsequent research into Cllr. Haque LW discovered that he is the subject of a financial Individual Voluntary Order while serving on the council’s Grants and Pensions committees.
Cllr. Haque has stated that the Daily Mail claims are incorrect.
On 11th October 2018 Asik Rahman (@asikrahman1986) sent LW a Direct Message (DM) on Twitter – which we did not see. Oops!
Only yesterday did we notice the DM purely by chance when we were looking for another message. Honest Guv!
But better late than never so we thought it only fair to help Asik get word out about Ehtasham and apologise for the delay.
Daily Mail allegations against Cllr. Ehtasham Haque
In April 2018 the Daily Mail Online published a story with the headline “Labour selects candidates accused of anti-Semitic comments and conspiracy theorists to run in local elections”.
“Ehtasham Haque, standing for Tower Hamlets Council in East London, said ‘Tel Aviv strikes again!’ when Ken Livingstone was suspended by Labour. He also suggested the Salisbury poisonings were carried out by the Government to boost its poll ratings.” Daily Mail Online 21 April 2018
LW has been in contact with the Daily Mail journalist who wrote the story several times to get screen grabs of the comments and although we have been assured they do exist we have not been able to obtain them.
Responding to the claims Cllr. Haque told LW that:
“I have never commented on the Salisbury poisoning, any claims contrary to this are false. My comment on the activities of the Israeli military have been deliberately misconstrued.
I have never bothered to correct the Blackshirt-supporting Daily Mail, which daily contributes to undermining cohesion amongst citizens of different colours, race and religion, in this great country.
The Daily Mail has erred and has fallen below basic journalistic standards, by never contacting me before attempting an inaccurate hatchet job on myself.
I serve my residents irrespective of colour, race or religion. I continue to advocate on behalf of my residents who are suffering under the mismanagement of this Conservative government.”
Cllr. Haque and his Individual Voluntary Agreement
During research into the activities of other Tower Hamlets Labour councillors, the Wapping Mole discovered that Cllr. Haque is the subject of an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA).
An IVA is an agreement with your creditors to pay all or part of your debts by agreeing to make regular payments to an insolvency practitioner who then divides this money between your creditors. (Source: Options for paying off your debts).
And you can see the Register of Interests for Cllr. Haque here.
There is no mention of the councillor’s IVA on his Register of Interests – which is fine because an IVA, unlike being bankrupt, is not required to be declared and is not a reason for being barred from elected office.
Cllr. Haque explains the distinction between the two very well:
“For background, although bankruptcy and an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) are both forms of insolvency, they are very different. An IVA does not restrict an individual from holding office, although on some occasions bankruptcy can.
I have an IVA, like many others across the UK.
Under an IVA a legal agreement is set up between the individual and their creditors with in effect a payment plan. An IVA usually lasts between 5 and 6 years, whereas an individual is usually discharged from bankruptcy within 12 months.
1.30 Bankruptcy in itself is not a disqualification. If you have been adjudged bankrupt by a court in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you are not disqualified on that basis. However, you are disqualified if you are currently subject to any of the following:
- An interim bankruptcy restrictions order
- A bankruptcy restrictions order
- Interim debt relief restrictions
In a further email to LW Cllr. Haque said “My IVA is no secret – it’s published on the register as you saw – but as for so many others who have financial problems this has been a difficult chapter in my life. I am dedicated to serving the residents in my ward and I do not believe that this detracts from the work I am doing.”
Cllr.Pappu off the naughty step
Cllr. Haque’s Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward colleague Cllr Pappu has attended three council meetings recently including speaking in Overview and Scrutiny on so it seems that he has been readmitted to Tower Hamlets Labour and the Labour whip returned after only three months.
His entry on the council website would seem to confirm he is once again Labour councillor – although to be honest LW is not sure it was ever changed to reflect his suspension for the anti-Semitic comments he made on social media.
We contacted the Labour Party to check this but had received no reply at the time of publication.
LW published the original story about Cllr. Pappu on 11th October 2018 – the same day Asik Rahman sent us the DM about Cllr. Haque.
If either of our two readers wish to bring something to our attention without a four month delay Moley recommends email email@example.com
Many thanks to prospective future councillor Asik Rahman for sending us the link about his prospective future colleague Cllr. Haque. Quite what your motives were we will not speculate, but it is safe to assume your intention was not to boost the career prospects of Cllr. Haque.
Cllr. Haque is being slightly disingenuous when he implies that the entry in the Insolvency Register is some form of voluntary public declaration of his IVA. The Wapping Mole only found out about this while digging around for something else.
Fact is that this is a matter of public interest and so should be in the public domain. If Ehtasham Haque is rubbish with money in his personal life (like Moley) that is his business. So what? Nothing is what.
But if Ehtasham Haque is rubbish with money and in his public life as an elected representative he has any influence on the borough’s finances that is a different matter and the electorate should know.
Cllr. Haque’s committee appointments are as follows:
- Council (Member)
- Grants Scrutiny Sub-Committee (Vice-Chair)
- Licensing Committee (Member)
- Licensing Sub Committee (Member)
- Pensions Committee (Vice-Chair)
- Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) (Member)
Is it sensible for him to serve on the Grants Committee and the Pensions Committee? The recent history of our council might indicate this is not best practice. Tower Hamlets has not only to be squeaky clean it has to appear squeaky clean.
Related Internet Links
- Nolan Principles for Public Life
- Electoral Commission ‘Guidance for candidates and agents’ (PDF)
- Representation of the People Act 1983
- Discharge from bankruptcy (Citizens Advice)
- What is undischarged bankruptcy?
- Options for paying off your debts