Labour Councillor resigns in housing fraud scandal

cllr-muhammud-harun.jpgLabour Councillor for Lansbury, Muhammad Harun, has resigned his position after allegations emerged of housing fraud. Former Councillor Harun is alleged to have let out a social tenancy property despite owning two other properties in Tower Hamlets and Essex. The news was broken last night by the local independent journalism blog Love Wapping. On the council, Harun sat as Vice Chair of the Audit Committee, responsible for ensuring financial propriety and signing off on expenditure.

Harun's resignation will trigger a by-election in Lansbury ward, to be held in the new year. It follows only two months after Blackwall and Cubitt Town Labour Councillor Mohammed Pappu resigned his Labour Party membership after he was revealed to have promoted antisemitic content online. Pappu has still not stood down from his role as a councillor and sits as an independent.

Liberal Democrats have raised serious concerns over Tower Hamlets Labour's candidate selection process.

Rabina Khan, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Shadwell, said:

"Tower Hamlets residents are tired of being let down by Labour again and again. It's unacceptable that two Labour councillors have had to step down within only months of being elected and I doubt that this will be the last Labour councillor to be investigated. With local people struggling more and more with the economic challenges of Brexit, councillors should be taking action to support their constituents, not taking advantage of their position." 

Elaine Bagshaw, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar and Limehouse said:

"As a Lansbury resident I want to be able to take pride in our ward and in its representatives. John Biggs promised local residents a new type of politics in the borough, moving beyond the corruption that made headlines in recent years. After only 7 months we've seen how empty that promise was. The people of Lansbury are entitled to better and should demand better from their Council." 

Outside Tower Hamlets, there have been a string of recent scandals involving national and local Labour candidates selected since Jeremy Corbyn's leadership:

  • Haringey Labour were forced to improve their vetting process after a Councillor was convicted for supplying class A drugs at a music festival. The candidate, who is also the son of Edmonton Labour MP¬†Kate Osamor, passed his selection after his arrest.
  • Peterborough MP Fiona Onansaya was suspended from the party¬†last week after being found guilty of lying to police in order to avoid receiving a speeding ticket. She has been urged to step down from Parliament.
  • Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara, who narrowly defeated Nick Clegg in 2017, quit the Labour party earlier this year. He was suspended by the party after sexist and homophobic messages he had posted online came to light. Although the party later reinstated his membership, he quit in protest at his treatment and still sits as an independent MP.
  • A Labour Councillor in Bognor Regis was suspended by the party and quit his role¬†in August after commenting online that Adolf Hitler "would have had a solution to the Israel problem"

Two Labour MPs, Frank Field and Ivan Lewis have also resigned the Labour whip this year in protest at the poor handling of allegations of rising antisemitism within the party.

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