Cllr. Tarik Khan, Cllr. Asma Begum, the South London Procurement Network & Canary Wharf Group

Elephants never forget. Neither do moles. After several months of twiddling his thumbs waiting for Tower Hamlets Council to undertake its statutory duties (aka what is has to do by law) the Wapping Mole can now reveal more about Cllr. Tarik Khan and the ‘South London Procurement Network’ which is now his ex-employer, how Cllr. Tarik Khan and his partner Cllr. Asma Begum now both seem to be unemployed, how they are using the ‘infinite loop’ trick on their Register of Interests and how the South London Procurement Network was not registered as either a Limited company or a charity but is registered now!

Confused? You will be!

Also a guest star appearance by Asmat Hussain, Director for Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer at Tower Hamlets Council (no, we had no clue what she did either and had to look it up.) Here she is on YouTube. The video had zero views and zero likes when we found it, so give it a few likes will ya?

Note to Ted Jeory: Ted, with just one or two name changes this story could have been written by your good self during the Lutfur Rahman years. On this basis could you come out of retirement and take over please ‘cos we can’t be arsed anymore. Nothing has changed – so what’s the point? Ta!

Cast your minds back

For either of our dear readers whose memories might be in need of refreshing cast your minds back to this story in February this year ‘Cllr. Tarik Khan, the South London Procurement Network and the Planning Application’

LW discovered that the Register of Interests of Cllr. Tarik Khan (Labour, St Peter’s) stated that he was employed by the ‘South London Procurement Network’ which seemed to be a free business support service that is funded by the Canary Wharf Group plc and Qatari Diar Development Company (UK) Ltd.

There was and still is no reason to believe that Canary Wharf Group (CWG) undertook anything other than normal business in funding the South London Procurement Network but we thought it was not exactly ‘open and transparent’ for a Labour councillor to not make it clear that he was employed by one of the major employers in Tower Hamlets.

Get those pecuniary interests out there!

Mole does get bored of twiddling his paws.

The issue of a councillor not properly disclosing their pecuniary (financial) interests such as who pays their wages is so serious that it is a criminal offence which can mean a fine of £5,000 and disqualification from holding office as a councillor for up to five years.

It seems nobody at Tower Hamlets Council can be bothered to undertake even the most cursory of checks into statements made by local councillors like ‘does their employer exist’?

Because after several months of digging and paw-twiddling while Moley waited for normal process to be followed by the Council we can find no indication that the South London Procurement Network ever existed. No trace of it either at Companies House or at the Charity Commission.

All a little confusing, especially when there was the business about Cllr. Tarik Khan and planning applications PA/18/03089/A1 and PA/18/03088/A1 in the same story – whatever happened to that? Anyone know?

The Mole’s paw-twiddling was due to having to wait for Asmat Hussain, Director for Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer at Tower Hamlets Council, to investigate the formal complaint LW made about Cllr. Tarik Khan not taking the whole ‘Register of Interests’ thing very seriously.

So Mole paw-twiddled. And twiddled some more. And some more.

Email 5th April 2019

After a few months paw-twiddling Ms. Hussain told Mole that ‘Whilst we understand the concerns you have raised, both myself and the Independent Person have concluded that your complaint does not merit formal investigation.’

Surprised? We were not. The Independent Person is someone who…oh who cares? It’s all window dressing. But there is more.

‘Councillor [Tarik] Khan has informed me that the South London Procurement Network is a not for profit company sponsored by various bodies. He appreciates the concerns you have raised in relation to transparency and has volunteered to include in his Register of Interests a list of sponsors for his employer to the extent that he is aware of them, even though this is not a statutory requirement.’

So. Amat Hussain asked Cllr. Tarik Khan if he had done anything wrong, he said no, job done. And she gets paid £100,000 a year for this? Moley gets paid f**k all and does a more thorough job – as we will now demonstrate (drumroll please!).

Email 25th April 2019

Not being a complete idiot Moley realised that someone somewhere was trying to pile bullshit on the entrance to his burrow and he did not like it. So he responded to Ms. Hussain thus:

‘Can you provide me with exact name of the not for profit company and the appropriate registration number for the not for profit (organisations can’t just exist without some form of registration). Could please also supply me with the names and registration bodies of the sponsoring bodies.’

In other words the basic information Ms. Hussain should have required Cllr. Tarik Khan to supply to her and then tell the rest of us but for whatever reason did not.

And it gets better!

Email 24 June 2019

Yesterday we received this email from Ms. Hussain.

‘Further to our request about SLPN and Councillor [Tarik] Khan, I can confirm that I have been in contact with Councillor Khan and he has updated his form which is published on line. The information you required is no longer available as he is no longer employed by SLPN [South London Procurement Network]. I refer you the decision of 5 April 2019 and am now closing the file.’ [LW Emphasis]

Moley has suggested that Ms. Hussain not close that file just yet as there are now more questions than when we started.

The bit we liked the most from the latest email is The information you required is no longer available as he is no longer employed by SLPN.

We replied to Ms. Hussain:

‘Interesting to hear that when challenged to provide details of his employment with the South London Procurement Network, who he had formally declared as being his employer in his published Register of Interests with the council, all of a sudden Cllr. Tarik Khan is not employed by the South London Procurement Network – or anyone else!

So has he resigned from the SLPN? If so why? Who is his employer now? How does he earn a living?’

Someone less charitable than the Wapping Mole might start to believe that the information we required that is no longer available was never available. Because it does not, and never has, existed.

It’s alive! The SLPN lives!

But Moley IS WRONG! The South London Procurement Network DOES exist. Well, it has from 12 June 2019 this year. Two weeks ago.

Odd that, innit?

Even odder is that while Cllr. Tarik Khan stated to Ms. Hussain that ‘the South London Procurement Network is a not for profit company sponsored by various bodies’ in fact it is nothing of the sort. It is a Limited company. Chalk and cheese.

You can see the registration details of the very recently incorporated South London Procurement Network here. And yes it does seem to be part of Canary Wharf Group as it’s registered office is One Canada Square, Canary Wharf and its directors include Howard Dawber and Sir George Iacobescu. No sign of a Tarik Khan though! (Mole thanks to our Far East Correspondent for spotting this recent registration.)

Can we conclude from this that Cllr. Tarik Khan was employed by Canary Wharf Group but just did not know? Did nobody ever tell him? Any chance of seeing your payslips Cllr. Tarik? Or should we wait for Ms. Hussain to ask?

However there is much more to tell of this tale, mainly concerning the physical wellbeing of Cllr. Tarik Khan and Cllr. Asma Begum. Read on to discover why Moley needs to ask if they are getting enough to eat?

LW has emailed both Cllr. Tarik Khan and his partner Cllr. Asma Begum for clarification on the details raised above.

Mole Notes

For those of you, like Moley, who want to know what a director of Corporate Governance does it seems it is all described in Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act of 1989 as amended by Schedule 5 paragraph 24 of the Local Government act 2000 – where else?!

Apparently the Corporate Governance person has to “act as guardian of the democratic process for the Council” including maintaining the register of Members’ interests.

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