Lutfur Rahman: the payback continues

In previous posts, I have described how Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets expelled from the Labour Party for his links with an extremist Muslim group, the IFE, has been steadily rewarding those who put him where he is – mostly at taxpayers’ expense.

– In just the three months between December and February, IFE front bodies have been given at least £149,000 of council money.

– Shiraj Haque, Lutfur’s legally-troubled business backer, has been given back his role organising a council-funded festival: a role from which he was removed in 2007 after allegations (denied) of financial impropriety and people-trafficking.

– A key crony of Ken Livingstone, who broke Labour rules to back Lutfur for mayor against his own party’s candidate, has been given a well-paid job at Tower Hamlets – without going through a formal recruitment process.

Now further rewards can be disclosed. Lutfur’s election agent, Gulam Robbani – who also happens to have been a governor at the IFE’s school, the London East Academy – has also been given a lucrative council post, as has Stephen Beckett, another of his supporters.

And Lutfur’s media allies have been duly rewarded. Tower Hamlets’ payment records show that in the month of January alone, the council paid £10,000 to the London-based Bengali-language TV station Channel S.

Channel S, widely watched in Tower Hamlets, was censured by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom after it acted as a blatant and ludicrous pro-Lutfur propaganda operation during October’s mayoral election. For a taste of just how bad its coverage was, see the transcript here.

Even more reprehensible is the £940 paid by the council in the same month to a “newspaper” called the London Bangla. During the election, a special edition of this publication appeared, stuffed on virtually every page with the most extraordinary series of baroque smears and lies against Lutfur’s principal opponent, Labour’s Helal Abbas. Mr Abbas, the London Bangla claimed, was a wife-beater, an enemy of Islam and had physically attacked canvassers for his opponent. We still haven’t quite got to the bottom of who paid for the vastly extended print-run, and door-to-door delivery, of that particular number of the London Bangla. Let’s hope it’s not us, eh?

More payback revelations in the days ahead.

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