Lutfur Rahman's tax-avoiding cabinet member buys himself a Porsche

Shahed Ali's "new toy"

It’s been “Lutfur Rahman week” on the blog, as we look at some of the people around Tower Hamlets’ extremist-linked mayor. On Tuesday I introduced you to Cllr Shahed Ali, Lutfur’s cabinet member for the environment, who liquidated his restaurant business owing £25,000 to the taxman – though the restaurant continued to be owned by him, and continued to trade exactly as it always has.

Tuesday, as it happens, was also Cllr Ali’s 41st birthday – and to mark the happy occasion, happy at least before the blogpost went up, he bought himself a Porsche.

As Shahed puts it on his Facebook page: “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. My new toy for my Birthday treat!”

That’s it in my photo – a Porsche Cayenne 4.5ltr 4×4 with a V8 turbo engine, currently retailing at up to £87,000. Being a Lutfur Rahman councillor must pay more than I thought…

To be fair, Shahed’s model appears to be last year’s, available on the secondhand market for as little as £46,000. But that, er, “saving” his company was able to make on tax must still have come in handy when he was amassing the pennies in the piggybank.

Shahed receives just under £23,000 in “special responsibility allowances” from the taxpayer for his council role and is responsible for spending about £70 million of taxpayers’ money. But he told me this week he would not be paying the money his company owes in tax.

And has Shahed had yet another helping hand from the taxpayer, too, I wonder? In January this year, according to Companies House, he registered a new company, Arts Worldwide, giving his home address as a flat in Harkness House, Christian Street, E1. The flat concerned is a council property. You know, those things, subsidised with public money, that are supposed to be for people in urgent need.

But Shahed owns at least four properties of his own – his Essex restaurant, the property next door, a flat in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, and yet another flat in Manchester Road, on the Isle of Dogs. Whatever can his urgent need be? A parking space for his new Porsche?

It is perhaps just a coincidence that Shahed’s Christian Street flat first popped on to the public record soon after he announced his support for Lutfur, the man expelled from Labour for his close links with Islamist extremism. But there does seem to be a link between Lutfur supporters and Tower Hamlets council flats.  In August, I exposed how Shiraj Haque, Lutfur’s chief backer and a millionaire, was the proud tenant of a housing association house in Bethnal Green, despite owning at least eight properties of his own, a chain of restaurants and a supermarket.

Nothing’s too good for the workers, as they say.

PS We do of course have printouts, in case Shahed is tempted to change his Facebook.

PPS Lutfur denies links with extremism.

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