"I welcome the swift resignation of Cllr Harun"
Former Labour Councillor and solicitor Muhammad Harun admitted committing housing fraud while he was in office.
Harun had won his Lansbury ward seat in Poplar in May 2018, in what was a landslide victory. He served seven months as a councillor before he was suspended.
He ended up resigning just before Christmas when the council launched an investigation.
Harun was accused of owning two properties in East London while living in social housing.
The allegations were subject to the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (POSHFA) and also Section 3 of the Fraud Act 2006.
The Fraud Act covers instances where a “a person is in breach if he dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and intends, by failing to disclose the information to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk or loss”.
Harun owned one property in Barking and another in Tower Hamlets. However, he continued to live at a property in Tower Hamlets that was provided by the council.
People who own their own home cannot bid for social housing.
During the investigation, Councillor Andrew Wood, Leader of the Tower Hamlets Conservative Group and councillor for Canary Wharf had explained that Harun may have purchased one of the properties with a Right to Buy discount.
He also said that the Barking property was bought in 2007 while the Tower Hamlets residence was bought in 2013.
Cllr Wood had also stated that other Labour councillors were under investigation.
Shortly after Harun’s resignation, Cllr Wood said in a statement:
“I welcome the swift resignation of Cllr Harun, I understand it relates to detailed allegations of housing fraud sent to the Council on Monday.
“This is the fourth Tower Hamlets Councillor to cause a by-election since 2012 and I am aware of other Councillors under investigation.
“Cllr Mohammed Pappu remains suspended by the Labour party and has not attended any Council meetings since October.
“Local government is a serious responsibility and political parties need to ensure that they are more careful in selecting candidates and voters need to be more careful in who they vote for.”
He added: “The victims in these cases are residents on the housing waiting list and in temporary accommodation who might have lived in the property illegally occupied by Harun.”
At Thames Magistrates’ Court, Harun pleaded guilty to two counts of housing fraud.
East London Advertiser reported that he faces up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine when he is sentenced later in October 2019.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said:
“Following an investigation led by the council, former councillor Muhammad Harun pleaded guilty.”
“As this is an ongoing legal process, the council will not be making further comment ahead of the sentencing hearing.”
Muhammad Harun may also be subject to a proceeds of crime order.