The controversial East London council headed by British-Bangladeshi mayor Lutfur Rahman has been accused of blocking efforts to be more transparent after a journalist was thrown out of a public meeting.
Political blogger Ted Jeory was removed from a meeting at Tower Hamlets council – which is being investigated for alleged polling irregularities – after he complained of inadequate seats for the press.
Mr Jeory was ejected after reportedly challenging the head of communications for the council, Takki Sulaiman and calling him a ‘prick’ over press seats being given over to members of the public.
Mr Jeory told the Evening Standard: “I’ve been reporting on those meetings for nine years now. I go there, I tweet live, thousands of people follow it. It’s almost like a big event, and it’s good for transparency.”
Tower Hamlets council has identified as an entity of concern by the government over corruption allegations relating to the election of independent candidate Mr Rahman.
The authority is also the subject of a Metropolitan Police investigation into fraud.
Councillors in the borough – home to one of the largest Bangladeshi Diaspora communities – have previously raised fears about the use of Bengali during meetings.
Mr Jeory added: “For a council which has a perception of a lack of transparency nationally, the last thing they should be doing is adding to that perception by removing a journalist from proceedings just because of a little upset from a council officer.
“There were no insults to anybody else, no insults to members of the public or councillors, I was just trying to do my job. I used a word directly between me and him in an altercation over whether he had sent an email to me asking for reserved seats.”
He went on: “I did use a term of abuse to him, and I regret using that particular term of abuse, but there are far more terms of abuse I wish I had used.”
In a statement Mr Sulaiman insisted Mr Jeory had in fact been sent an email inviting him to reserve a seat there.
He added: “As is normal practice a number of local journalists including Mr Jeory were group emailed asking if they wanted a seat reserved for what was expected to be a packed council meeting. They were asked to respond if they wanted a seat. No response was received from Mr Jeory although a number of other journalists did.
“This is my workplace, I have a right not to be abused in my workplace. I don’t know any other walk of life where it would be justified,” he added.