Labour's London chapter suspends two of its Pakistani origin councillors

Laila Butt was a councillor for Abbey Ward of Barking and Dagenham and councillor Khaliq Malik, who was cabinet member of the London borough of Hounslow

Wadood Mushtaq
Photo: Reuters FILE

LONDON: Labour Party has suspended its two imperative members and councillors for six months from London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, and Hounslow over allegations of bullying, harassment and dishonesty.

Laila Butt was a councillor for Abbey Ward of Barking and Dagenham and councillor Khaliq Malik, who was cabinet member of the London borough of Hounslow, were suspended, while investigations into allegations against them are underway.

Due to suspension, both councillors couldn’t cast their vote for the election of mayor, deputy mayor and others.

Butt, who was allegedly involved in a scandal for not declaring a rental property in Barking owned by her husband, has resigned from her post and faces an investigation for failing to declare a property her husband rents out.

Announcing her decision to the council’s Labour Group, following the launch of an investigation by the monitoring officer, Butt said: "I want to apologise for failing to fully declare my partner’s business interests."

Prior to the election, Butt was responsible for punishing rogue landlords in her capacity as the cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, a role she stepped down from two weeks ago.

It is a criminal offence for a councillor to not declare his own or a spouse’s financial interests within 28 days of taking up the office.

Butt will now be the only non-Labour politician in the council, she will remain the councillor for Abbey Ward, but is currently not a member of any political group on the council.

Barking and Dagenham Council launched the investigation after it was revealed that Laila Butt failed to list a property owned by her husband, Shahid Hussain Butt, on her register of interests.

The electoral register states four people each with different surnames live at the address.

Tamkeen Shaikh, chairwoman of Barking Conservatives, has called on council leader Darren Rodwell to suspend Butt from the Labour Party and remove her name from election literature in the Abbey Ward. "I'm sure that honest Labour members would be appalled to learn that a person with such a negligent attitude to their responsibilities should be promoted by their party," Shaikh said in a letter to council leader Rodwell.

Barking and Dagenham Labour Group and council said in a statement: "We take very seriously the allegation that has been made about Cllr Butt, which we were made aware of on April 20.

"We immediately referred the matter to the council's monitoring officer and asked for an investigation to be carried out."

Butt was first elected to represent the Abbey Ward in 2010.

In the other case, Councillor Khaliq Malik, chair of Bedfont, Felltham and Hanwaorth Area Forum of London borough of Hounslow, has also been suspended from Labour Party for six months.

The charges against Malik were levelled by Councilor Saima Chaudhary, who accused him of bullying and sexually harassing her. Chaudhary (newly elected mayor of Hounslow) also alleged that Malik slapped her and publically used unpleasant words against her.

She explained in party meeting and proved what she claimed.

Malik was suspended for six months not only from the party, but from his official portfolio as well.

He couldn’t vote for the election of mayors, deputy mayors and others on the other day.

Malik denied being suspended from the party, however said that he had been withdrawn as the whip, which means that he could not participate in official activities of Labour Party.