Lutfur Rahman accuses BBC of racism amid Panorama storm

Lutfur Rahman of Tower Hamlets

A London mayor who was accused by the Panorama programme of diverting £2m in public grants allegedly to shore up his vote has complained of racism and Islamophobia by the BBC.

The flagship current affairs show claimed Lutfur Rahman, executive mayor of the east end borough of Tower Hamlets, increased taxpayer funding to Bangladeshi and Somali groups from £1.5m to £3.6m despite council officer recommendations. Panorama said he used funds from the council’s reserves and reduced what was left for other organisations by 25% overall.

Hours before Panorama was broadcast on Monday night, Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities announced an inquiry into the claims citing “a worrying pattern of divisive community politics and mismanagement of council staff and resources by the mayoral administration”. He said he would consider using legal powers against the borough which is led by Rahman, a Bangladesh-born former Labour politician who became independent after he was dropped by the party…