"Vandals" ripped down Palestinian flag, says Tower Hamlets Council
Tower Hamlets Council said a Palestinian flag placed outside its town hall was torn down in an act of "perceived vandalism".
In a move which saw it criticised by the government, council staff had put up the symbol at Mulberry Place on Wednesday following a decision by Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
On Thursday morning Tower Hamlets Police went to visit the site in response to media interest but found it had been removed.
By the afternoon the council revealed it had been pulled from the flagpole.
A statement from the council said: "Today council facilities staff found the flag had been ripped from the flagpole in an act of perceived vandalism."
Mayor Rahman had come under fire from various groups for putting the flag on the town hall.
Government minister Brandon Lewis said it was a "clear political statement" in an area where the borough administration had "no responsibility".
And Councillor Peter Golds, leader of the Conservative group at Tower Hamlets called it "gesture politics of the worst kind".
But Mr Rahman defended the action saying: "The decision was taken after many local residents raised concerns at the recent escalation of violence in Gaza where over 1,300 people have been killed, most of them women and children."
He added he was "taking a stand in the face of injustice".
Tower Hamlets Police denied any complaint was made to them. A spokeswoman said officers visited the town hall on Thursday morning after seeing media reports on the flag.
She said there was no intention to take the flag down but when officers arrived it had been removed.