Tower Hamlets Council deletes tweet praising the achievements of its ‘incredible executive mayor’

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A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said the tweet was deleted “as soon as it was spotted by communications team management”.

An east London council which previously “fell afoul of laws surrounding impartiality and publicity” has deleted a Twitter post in which it praised its “incredible Executive Mayor”.

Tower Hamlets Council tweeted a thread on Tuesday (June 6) in which it detailed a series of achievements Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire Party had recorded over the last 12 months.

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In its first tweet, the council wrote: “Celebrating one year with @LutfurRamanTH (sic) as our incredible Executive Mayor! Since his election, we’ve achieved so much together! We’re committed to delivering on our promises and building a stronger borough! Here’s what we’ve achieved so far.”

After receiving some backlash on Twitter, the council promptly deleted the post.

A council spokesperson said the tweet “should not have been issued”, adding: “As soon as it was spotted by communications team management it was immediately deleted. We are reviewing internally the process that led to the publishing of this post.”

The tweet by Tower Hamlets Council was “immediately” deleted after communications team management saw it. Credit: Twitter.The tweet by Tower Hamlets Council was “immediately” deleted after communications team management saw it. Credit: Twitter.
The tweet by Tower Hamlets Council was “immediately” deleted after communications team management saw it. Credit: Twitter.

Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of Tower Hamlets Labour, described the post in a tweet of his own as “extraordinary”. He told LondonWorld the Labour group contacted the council’s chief executive “immediately” after seeing it online.

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“During the mayor’s last administration, the council fell afoul of laws surrounding impartiality and publicity,” he continued. “We did not want to see our borough suffer the same mistakes again.

“The next day I met with senior officers of the council who assured us that this was a mistake made by a member of staff and the matter would be dealt with internally. We have been provided with assurances that staff would receive extra training and that issues of this nature will not occur again.”

The Local Government Association (LGA), the national membership body for local authorities, said it does not regulate councils’ social media accounts. However, a spokesperson noted the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity issued by the Government in March, 2011, which states councils must be, among other requirements, objective, even-handed, and appropriate.

Tower Hamlets Council has previously run into issues related to its publicity, with the local authority receiving several letters from the Government in 2014 over its conduct.

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One letter, sent in September 2014, referenced concerns around the weekly distribution of the council’s now-defunct East End Life magazine, more than the quarterly frequency listed in the Publicity Code, as well as a 2013 Ofcom ruling, in which Mr Rahman, who was mayor at the time, was “associated with the house building programme in the borough”.

This, the Government added, “was a political advertisement rather than a public service announcement and so breached section 321(3)(g) of the Communications Act 2003 and the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising”.

Mr Rahman was selected as the council’s first directly elected mayor in 2010, having run as an independent, and again in 2014, representing a new party, Tower Hamlets First.

He was removed in April 2015 after being found “personally guilty” of “corrupt and illegal practices” in the civil election court.

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The police and Crown Prosecution Service found there was not enough evidence to launch a criminal prosecution, and in May 2022, Mr Rahman was re-elected as the borough’s mayor, with his Aspire Party winning the majority of council seats.

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