Another of former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cronies has been kicked out of office after he was sent to prison for housing fraud.
Cllr Shahed Ali, once of the disbanded Tower Hamlets First party and a former Cabinet member and then standing as part of the THF’s Independent grouping was jailed for five months at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
He changed his plea to guilty at the last minute but not before Tower Hamlets had racked up in £70,000 in legal fees to pursue a conviction for nearly a year.
Ali applied to live in subsidised social housing in 2001 and then went about securing a range of properties, which he rented out or lived in, without ever informing the council.
Ali is no longer eligible to hold office and there now will be a by election in the Whitechapel ward, pencilled in for December 1.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “It’s disgraceful that instead of serving his constituents Shahed Ali chose not only to commit housing fraud but then to lie about it, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.
“It’s entirely right that he is kicked off the council and that there is a by-election to give voters the chance to give their verdict on his criminality. It’s a shame he did not have the integrity to come clean and resign before he’d cost taxpayers.
“What astounds me is that despite one of their colleagues being convicted of fraud, none of the Independent councillors have spoken out or apologised.”
Stench of corruption
Cllr Peter Golds, Isle of Dogs councillor and Conservative group leader said: “Shahed Ali is the second Rahman supporting Tower Hamlets councillor jailed for housing fraud. The property that he illegally secured while owning a former council flat where he allegedly lived, a former council flat which he rented out, a restaurant with flats at Frinton on Sea could and should have been made available to one of the 20,000 families on the council waiting list.
“This man could have resigned from the council when his fraud became known, instead he continued to trouser over £10,000 in council allowances, while doing nothing for the people that he was elected to serve.
“He is gone now but the stench of the Tower Hamlets First corruption still hangs over the town hall.”
The Independent Group issued a statement: "There is an absolute zero tolerance in the Independent Group for any breach in the high standards of personal integrity and probity expected of a public servant, which is why we expelled the councillor in question and notified the council as soon when the matter was first brought to our attention last year.”
Electoral fraud claim
Ali was also registered to vote at two addresses with votes cast in his name for both. His case was cited by the judge in Mr Rahman’s election fraud trial as an example of the dishonesty that surrounded the disgraced former mayor.
Although the judge pointed out that evidence of both ballots plainly showed something was wrong, the police decided there was insufficient evidence to charge him with electoral fraud, enraging anti-corruption advocates who claimed this was another example of the Met Police turning a blind eye to obvious wrong-doing.