A councillor with alleged links to an Islamic extremist group, who was deselected by Labour, is to stand as an independent in the Tower Hamlets mayoral race.
Lutfur Rahman has been given the backing of George Galloway’s Respect party in the vote for the borough’s first directly elected mayor.
Mr Rahman, who represents the borough’s Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, is a controversial figure in the area due to allegations of his connection with the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which operates out of the East London Mosque.
Reporters for the Channel 4 Dispatches programme claimed that the IFE had helped him become the Labour leader of Tower Hamlets council, a position from which he was subsequently removed.
Former MP Mr Galloway had considered running as Respect’s candidate after Mr Rahman was ousted by the Labour National Executive Committee.
However in a statement Respect offered “wholehearted support to Councillor Rahman and his campaign” and accused Tower Hamlets’ Labour party of orchestrating “a vicious witch-hunt” against him, “aided and abetted by the right-wing press”.
The statement added: “The campaign has been tainted with anti-Muslim racism.”