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PR : BBC Panorama documentary on Lutfur Rahman creates a PR challenge

Government orders investigation into Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

Auditors sent to council and file passed to police after Panorama alleged mayor sought to shore up vote by diverting grants

The government has ordered outside auditors to examine allegations that an east London mayor sought to shore up his vote by diverting £2m in public grants to Bangladeshi and Somali groups.

The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, said staff from the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers were already in place at Tower Hamlets council. A file is being passed to the Metropolitan police.

This week a BBC Panorama documentary alleged that the executive mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, increased taxpayer funding to Bangladeshi and Somali groups from £1.5m to £3.6m against council officer recommendations, cutting what was available for other organisations by 25% overall.

Rahman, who is of Bangladeshi origin, has denied the allegations,accusing the BBC of racism and Islamophobia. He sits as an independent after he was dropped by Labour in 2010.

Pickles said: “It is a matter of public record that I have long been concerned about a worrying pattern of divisive community politics and alleged mismanagement of public money by the mayoral administration in Tower Hamlets. Following the receipt of a number of documents, I am now taking legal steps, in the public interest, to appoint inspectors to look into the allegations.