'Breathtaking hypocrisy' - Tower Hamlets spends £128,000 fighting Panorama documentary

By Rob Virtue on August 30, 2014 5:52 PM |

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Tower Hamlets Council has been accused of hypocrisy after spending over £128,000 on a failed attempt to stop the Panorama investigation being broadcast.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman's team paid the money on consultant lawyers, lobbyists and a QC, it was revealed this week.

The figures were first uncovered by east London journalist Ted Jeory on his blog.

They show £81,000 was paid out to law firm Taylor Wessing and £41,000 to lobbyists Champollion. Meanwhile, the Tower Hamlets Conservative Party also found £5,400 was spent on a QC to tackle the documentary.

Another month's invoice from the communications consultancy is yet to revealed.

The money spent did not stop the investigation, which looked into the running of the council, being shown in March this year.

Conservative leader in the borough, Councillor Peter Golds slammed the administration over the figures, as they came just days after Ofcom censured Islam TV for what it saw as a one-sided interview with Mayor Rahman in favour of the Tower Hamlets leader.

In response to the Ofcom report a council spokesman said: "It is not the responsibility of the Mayor nor the council to ensure that broadcasters' coverage is sufficiently balanced."

Cllr Golds accused the council of "breathtaking hypocrisy".

"They claim ensuring political balance of programmes is not their responsibility, despite having spent over £125,000 ostensibly for that very purpose," he said.

"The reality is the taxpayers' money was used to try and prevent the Mayor being subject to any criticism, and the council is now trying to prevent the public finding out details of how their money was spent. It simply isn't good enough.

"I have complained to the head of the council about this outrageous behaviour."

The council is yet to respond.

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