Lutfur Rahman, the fundamentalist-linked politician blocked by Labour for the mayoralty of Tower Hamlets, is using a solicitor closely connected to the banned pro-terrorist group, al-Muhajiroun, to threaten the party with legal action.
Cllr Rahman lost his job as council leader, and was kept off the shortlist to be Labour’s candidate for the powerful directly-elected mayor position, amid widespread and deep concerns about his links with a group called the Islamic Forum of Europe – which wants, in its own words, to create a sharia state in Europe. But his threat to sue has successfully bullied a cash-strapped Labour Party into re-starting the selection procedure.
The letter sent to the party by Cllr Rahman’s solicitor, Makbool Javaid, last Thursday has been leaked to this blog. It claims that the good Councillor is the victim of racism and “false innuendo” by me, the Telegraph, Private Eye magazine and Channel 4 “in a manner reminiscent of right-wing Moscow gold smears used to tarnish Labour MPs in the last century.” It says these allegations were never put to Rahman by the Labour selection panel, but that they are “categorically denied” by him.
This is interesting. As a matter of fairness – and also as our legal obligation under the Ofcom code – we did, of course, put all our allegations of IFE influence to Councillor Rahman. And, as you can see here, he refused to deny them. I should also say that in the more than four months since the broadcast of our “right-wing smears,” and despite countless references to him on this blog, neither the Telegraph nor Channel 4 has received any complaint from Councillor Rahman.
Needless to say, our allegations were carefully researched. They are that Cllr Rahman achieved the leadership of Tower Hamlets council in 2008 with the help of the IFE, which lobbied and pressured councillors on his behalf. Under his leadership, we can demonstrate, the council showed clear signs of coming under Islamic fundamentalist influence, with (for instance) large sums of money channelled to IFE-linked bodies, extremist Islamic literature stocked in the borough’s libraries and plans drawn up to “Islamically brand” the mixed community of Brick Lane with so-called “hijab arches.” There was also a massive – and highly suspicious – rise in Labour Party membership, with many of the new members having the same names as people we can link to the IFE.
Lutfur’s denials of all involvement with Islamic extremism are also badly undermined by his choice of lawyer. Makbool Javaid has been closely connected to al-Muhajiroun, one of the nastiest extremist groups to have existed in Britain, which has praised the 9/11 hijackings, the 7/7 bombings and other acts of terror. In 1998, Mr Javaid signed a fatwa calling for a “full-scale war of jihad” against Britain and the US. “We, the undersigned, call upon the Muslims around the world including Muslims in the USA and Britain to confront by all means, whether verbally, financially, politically or militarily, the US and British aggression,” he said. His co-signatories included Omar Bakri Mohammed, al-Muhajiroun’s founder – now excluded from Britain.
Mr Javaid has spoken at many al-Muhajiroun events – usually as a representative of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, named in Parliament as an al-Muhajiroun front. Here is some YouTube video of him speaking at an al-Muhajiroun rally in Trafalgar Square, calling for… well, a sharia state in Europe, actually!
Lutfur thinks that if he can only get on the shortlist, he can achieve selection in a vote of the wider membership. And certainly, travelling round Tower Hamlets in the course of my investigation, knocking on doors, I found (and filmed) quite a few new Labour Party members who admitted they had no interest in the party, but had simply been signed up by Cllr Rahman.
As an executive mayor, Lutfur would have few of the checks and balances that existed when he was council leader. That is why when Labour re-runs the selection, it should make crystal clear that there is no place in power for the allies of fundamentalism.