Eric Pickles orders takeover of Tower Hamlets council which ‘allowed homophobia to fester’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Tory minister Eric Pickles has ordered the takeover of Tower Hamlets council, which he says “allowed homophobia and antisemitism to fester”.

The Secretary of State used powers granted under the Local Government Act 1999 to take over the administration of the east London council, after an inquiry found evidence of poor conduct.

The independent inquiry conducted by PwC found accuses the independent elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, of individually selecting preferred companies to get contracts from the council, with Pickles branding him a “medieval monarch”.

He also condemned the ruling local councillors, telling the Commons: “The abuse of taxpayers’ money reflects a partisan approach to politics that seeks to spread favours and sow divisions.

“Such behaviour is to the detriment of integration and community cohesion in Tower Hamlets and in our capital city.

“This is a borough where there have been widespread allegations of extremism, homophobia and antisemitism has been allowed to fester without proper challenge.

“If I was the mayor of Tower Hamlets I would be holding my head in shame, because what he’s allowed to occur in Tower Hamlets is shameful.”

In December last year, anti-gay posters appeared in the borough, targeting a gay former Liberal Democrat councillor.

In 2011, a man was fined for putting up stickers in the borough declaring Tower Hamlets a “gay free zone”.