It looks like one of the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe’s key sympathisers on Tower Hamlets Council could be in trouble today.
Lutfur Ali was appointed assistant chief executive of the council – the second most important post – despite a damning headhunter’s report which described him as “superficial,” “rather limited,” and “one-dimensional.” They said he might “struggle with the intellectual challenges [of] a highly strategic role”.
Unknown to the headhunters, Mr Ali had also been forced to resign from a previous post at the London Fire Authority after breaking rules on political neutrality. He omitted this fact from his Tower Hamlets application.
Luckily, though, he did have what was almost certainly a more important qualification – close links to the IFE. He set up an organisation called the Centre for Muslim Affairs with a number of IFE and IFE-linked figures.
Now it is alleged that Mr Ali has been moonlighting – in council time – for an organisation called the National College for Leadership of Schools. The chief executive, Kevan Collins, confirmed to me that a complaint had been received from the college – which acted after seeing Mr Ali in my Dispatches programme two weeks ago. A council spokesperson said: “We have received a letter from the National College, and it is being looked into.”
“Any allegations of that nature will be fully investigated,” Mr Collins said. “Every member of staff is under a contractual obligation to work full-time for the council unless explicitly stated otherwise.”
Approached on Saturday, Mr Ali did not deny the allegation, saying only: “I cannot make a comment on that because I need to check out exactly what the college have said.”
If the allegations are true, it is hard to see how Mr Ali can survive. If he goes, it is bad news for the IFE – and brilliant news for Tower Hamlets. As well as being apparently unqualified for his job, he is in charge of grants – and under him, quite a lot of grants have been funnelled to IFE-linked organisations.
The council says they may have something to say about the results of their “looking into” in a day or so. I’ll be keeping an eye on the case. And if Tower Hamlets’ IFE-influenced political leadership somehow tries to brush the matter under the carpet, I think you can rely on a fuss being made.