Lutfur Rahman, the Bangladesh-born Muslim elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, East London, was accused by BBC's Panorama of doubling public funding to Bangladeshi and Somali Muslim groups from £1.3 million ($2.9m) to £3.6 million ($6m) at the recommendation of council officers.
The Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government [DCLG], Eric Pickles, had apparently sent inspectors into Tower Hamlets to investigate Rahman's activities. But when, on April 4, the Metropolitan Police Service received three files from the DCLG, and police investigators reviewed the allegations, they found no evidence of fraud or other offenses. In response, Mr. Rahman labeled BBC's Panorama report as having "clear racist and Islamophobic overtones targeting the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Tower Hamlets."
Rahman, a solicitor specializing in family law, describes himself as a liberal and a social democrat. But many consider him as secretive, sly, inept, anti-gay and a frontman for Islamists. The question now in London, before local elections on May 22, is whether Rahman is a liberal or actually a fundamentalist.