A candidate with alleged extremist links and the backing of Respect politician George Galloway has become the first directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.
Lutfur Rahman, who was originally Labour’s candidate but was suspended from the party in September because of “serious allegations” about his conduct, won 51.7 per cent of the first-preference votes.
He was nominated as the Labour’s candidate for Tower Hamlets despite local party opposition, but after he was removed as the party’s choice he opted to stand as an independent.
Mr Rahman, a Spitalfields and Banglatown councillor, beat the Labour hopeful Helal Abbas by more than 12,000 votes.
Mr Rahman was the subject of a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation earlier this year, and it has been claimed that he has connections with the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which operates out of the East London mosque.
Reporters for the programme suggested that the IFE had helped him become the Labour leader of Tower Hamlets council, a position from which he was ousted in May.
Former Respect MP and pro-Palestinian campaigner George Galloway hinted that he would contest the election himself but decided against it.
However Respect offered: “wholehearted support to [him] and his campaign”.
Mr Rahman will now have control of a budget of more than £1 billion for the next four years. He will be mayor of the east London borough during the 2012 London Olympics.
Turnout for the vote was just 25.6 per cent.
According to the Telegraph, after the results were announced a senior member of the local Labour party said: “It really is Britain’s Islamic republic now.”
Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said the result was "greatly disappointing."
“Nobody likes losing elections and certainly not to former members.”
But he told the JC that the result was not a victory for Respect.
“They are a spent force, they are dead and as an organisation they are in complete disarray.
“This was a demonstration of some elements in the Islamic community. It was not orchestrated by Respect – they just traded on it.”