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Lutfur Rahman

Lutfur Rahman

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Lutfur Rahman is a community activist and local politician in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England. He became the first directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets
Directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets
The directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets is a new directly elected mayor, elected on 21 October 2010, taking on the executive function of Tower Hamlets London Borough Council in east London, England...

 in 2010, having previously been the leader of Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
Tower Hamlets London Borough Council is the local authority for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in Greater London, England. The council is unusual in that its executive function is controlled by a directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, currently Lutfur Rahman.Following the May 2010 election,...

 from 2008 to 2010.


Rahman was born in Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, and then moved to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 at a young age. He grew up in Tower Hamlets and attended the Manor Primary School in Bow
Bow, London
Bow is an area of London, England, United Kingdom in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is a built-up, mostly residential district located east of Charing Cross, and is a part of the East End.-Bridges at Bowe:...

, the Lawdale Junior School in Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green is a district of the East End of London, England and part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, with the far northern parts falling within the London Borough of Hackney. Located northeast of Charing Cross, it was historically an agrarian hamlet in the ancient parish of Stepney,...

 and Bow School. After studying Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 at City University London, Rahman qualified as a solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

 and specialised in family law.


Rahman has taken part in local civil society initiatives including Member and General Secretary (1987–89) of Progressive Youth Organisation, Spitalfields and Founding Member and first Treasurer (1990) of Keen Students Supplementary School (KSS). He was General Secretary of Community Alliance for Police Accountability (CAPA) and Chair of the Tower Hamlets Tower Hamlets Law Centre. Rahman has also been a Non-Executive Director of Barts and The London NHS Trust
Barts and The London NHS Trust
Barts and The London NHS Trust is an NHS Trust operating in the City of London and east London.It runs three hospitals:* The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel* St Bartholomew's Hospital in Smithfield in the City...


Rahman was elected as a Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

A councillor or councilor is a member of a local government council, such as a city council.Often in the United States, the title is councilman or councilwoman.-United Kingdom:...

 for the Spitalfields
Spitalfields is a former parish in the borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to many markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, founded in the 17th century, Sunday...

 and Banglatown ward in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. He has been part of the leadership of Tower Hamlets Council, serving as Lead member for Education for two years and, from 2006–2007, Lead Member for Culture. In February 2007, Rahman announced his intention to be the prospective Labour Party candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow. However, he came second to Rushanara Ali
Rushanara Ali
Rushanara Ali is a British Labour Party politician and Associate Director of the Young Foundation, who has been the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow since 2010...

 who went on to win the Parliamentary seat.

In April 2008 he was elected Leader of the majority Labour Group on Tower Hamlets Council, and therefore Leader of the Council. After the local elections In May 2010, at which Labour increased their number of councillors, Lutfur Rahman was replaced as Leader by Cllr. Helal Uddin Abbas.

Directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets

In September 2010, Rahman was selected by the Tower Hamlets Labour Party as its candidate to be the first directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets
Directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets
The directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets is a new directly elected mayor, elected on 21 October 2010, taking on the executive function of Tower Hamlets London Borough Council in east London, England...

. However his candidacy was controversial and his placement on the shortlist of preferred Labour Party candidates was withdrawn on several occasions before it was finally confirmed following legal action on behalf of Rahman. He was finally elected as Labour's Mayoral candidate by Tower Hamlets Borough Labour Party members receiving 433 votes, compared to John Biggs with 251 votes and Helal Abbas with 157 votes. He was declared as the winning candidate by Ken Clark, Director of London Regional Labour Party. However, within a couple of weeks he was removed as Labour's candidate by the Labour Party's National Executive Committee
National Executive Committee
The National Executive Committee or NEC is the chief administrative body of the UK Labour Party. Its composition has changed over the years, and includes representatives of affiliated trade unions, the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party, Constituency Labour Parties,...

 and replaced by the 'third man' Helal Uddin Abbas.

He was at first said to be considering urgent legal action to be reinstated,
but declared on 23 September that he would stand as an Independent candidate. The Respect Party declared its support for him.

Rahman presents himself as a social democrat, but to the left of the official Labour candidate. A Labour councillor described Rahman's campaign as 'a hugely well-financed operation,' but he claimed to meet all his own costs from his earnings as a solicitor, including the launch event at the Troxy
The Troxy is an art deco theatre and concert venue at 490 Commercial Road in Stepney, in the East End borough of Tower Hamlets, London, UK.-History:...

 and the printing of election leaflets.

He was elected with over 51% of the vote receiving 23,283 votes. Labour's candidate came second with 11,254, Conservative 5,348, Liberal Democrat 2,800, Green 2,300. He became Britain's first Muslim executive mayor.

Rahman invited councillors from mainstream parties to join his cabinet, but only five did so, all former Labour members. A review in February 2011 of his early performance as Mayor concluded that he had proved "highly adept at political jujutsu - drawing strength from his enemies' attack", including unfair branding of the borough as "Islamist" in the tabloids, and was working with the local Labour MPs to resist the Government's
United Kingdom coalition government (2010–present)
The ConservativeLiberal Democrat coalition is the present Government of the United Kingdom, formed after the 2010 general election. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats entered into discussions which culminated in the 2010 coalition agreement, setting out a programme for government...


Later a Labour Party investigation report stated that 16 members not registered in the constituency had participated in the selection, but which candidate they voted for was not known, and in any event these would not have changed the outcome of the selection process.

Other controversies

Rahman’s leadership came under criticism in June 2009, when he reportedly stated that he had no confidence in Tower Hamlets' Chief Executive, Martin Smith, and told him to ‘go home and consider your future.’ The news came on the eve of voting for the European elections, which Smith nevertheless attended as the council's returning officer
Returning Officer
In various parliamentary systems, a returning officer is responsible for overseeing elections in one or more constituencies.-Australia:In Australia a returning officer is an employee of the Australian Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission who heads the local divisional office...

. For his dismissal over a personality clash, Smith's terms of employment, negotiated when the council was under the Labour Party leadership of Cllr Denise Jones, entitled him to a payout in the region of £500,000.

Andrew Gilligan
Andrew Gilligan
Andrew Paul Gilligan is a British journalist best known for a 2003 report on BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme in which he said a British government briefing paper on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction had been 'sexed up', a claim that ultimately led to a public inquiry that criticised Gilligan...

 in a Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

Dispatches (TV series)
Dispatches is the British television current affairs documentary series on Channel 4, first transmitted in 1987. The programme covers issues about British society, politics, health, religion, international current affairs and the environment, usually featuring a mole in an organisation.-Awards:*...

documentary in March 2010, and in a series of Daily Telegraph blogs and articles, accused Rahman of achieving the council leadership with the help of the Islamic Forum of Europe. The IFE was accused by the local Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick
Jim Fitzpatrick
Jim Fitzpatrick may refer to:*Jim Fitzpatrick , Irish artist*Jim Fitzpatrick , British politician*Jim Fitzpatrick , American roller derby athlete, referee, and author*Jim Fitzpatrick , American actorSee also...

, of infiltrating
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

 the council and the Labour Party. It was further claimed by Gilligan that during Rahman's leadership of the council, millions of pounds of public money were paid to organisations run by the IFE, and that the results included stocks of extremist literature being made available in public libraries. However, Rahman denied in October 2010 that he was in league with the IFE. IFE issued a statement denying Rahman was a member of the IFE and stating that Abbas, Labour's replacement condidate, had also had public and private meetings with the IFE.

Conservative councillor Peter Golds asked the police and the Electoral Commission
Electoral Commission (United Kingdom)
The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections...

 to investigate Rahman for alleged undeclared donations from Brick Lane restauranteur Shiraj Haque to fund Rahman's legal action against the Labour Party. Interviewed for the Guardian in October 2010, Rahman dismissed the complaint and insisted that, like the electoral campaign, he meets all his own expenses and legal costs. The Electoral Commission asked Golds to make a more specific allegation, but The Guardian reported that an actionable allegation was not made.

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