The controversial newly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets has thanked former London mayor Ken Livingstone for his support and denied allegations that he has links with Islamic extremists.
Lutfur Rahman fought the election as an independent candidate after he was deselected by Labour amid claims of irregularities in the nomination process and suggestions that he has connections to the Islamic Forum of Europe, which operates out of the East London Mosque.
The Muslim politician, who also has the backing of Respect party leader and pro-Palestinian campaigner George Galloway, won with 51.7 per cent of the first-preference votes, trouncing the official Labour candidate, Helal Abbas.
But before the vote last Thursday it emerged that Mr Livingstone - Labour’s candidate to challenge Boris Johnson as London mayor in 2012 – appeared to have been campaigning for Mr Rahman rather than Mr Abbas.
There were calls for Mr Livingstone to be expelled from the Labour party as a result. And fuelling questions over where Mr Livingstone’s loyalty lies, Mr Rahman said yesterday: “Ken Livingstone is a great politician. I'm grateful to him for coming here to support justice.
“I'm very happy to have his support.”
He called the claims about his links with the Islamic Forum of Europe “rubbish” and said his deselection from the Labour Party was part of a campaign to “discredit” him as a politician. He said it was “based on innuendo, hearsay and untruth".
Mr Rahman’s victory prompted local Labour MP Rushanara Ali to comment: “This is an extremely disappointing result. We worry about the future of this borough.
“We need to make sure that people in Tower Hamlets can live without fear and intimidation."