Police are investigating a “smear” campaign against a gay former east London councillor after posters accusing him of paedophilia were put up near his home.
Following Nigel McCollum’s attendance at a council meeting in Tower Hamlets last week, the posters were displayed in bus shelters near his home in Bow over the course of successive days. The posters also included his address and phone numbers.
In response to the incident, Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, posted a comment on his blog saying: “I have been appalled to learn of the quite shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s prominent and respected residents, former Lib Dem councillor, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night.
“He had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.
“Both Lib Dem leader, Councillor Stephanie Eaton and I are urging the police to mount a full and thorough investigation. Both Stephanie and I wish to condemn what Nigel and ourselves believe to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that may well be politically charged. I have spoken to Nigel and offered him both our sympathy and our full support.”
He added: “There can be no place for homophobia and hate in Tower Hamlets. Those who attempt to promulgate it must know that there will be consequences to their actions.”
Labour Councillor Sirajul Islam added: “I totally condemn these utterly atrocious attempts to smear a hard-working and respected former councillor. Whilst we may have our political differences with Nigel nobody should ever be subjected to this kind of abuse and we hope that those responsible will be swiftly bought to justice.
“To baselessly imply without any reason or cause that this is related to any exchange of opinions in the Council chamber does neither them, nor Nigel, justice. Now is not a time for politics, it is about finding those responsible and ensuring they face the consequences of their actions.”
Conservative Councillor Peter Golds said: “We absolutely condemn anything like this, and we need a full investigation to find out who has done it.”
Police stated that the incident is not being regarded as a hate crime, but officers are “open-minded regarding the motive”.