Redbridge councillor denies historic antisemitic remarks claim as investigation launched

A Redbridge councillor has been suspended pending an investigation over historic antisemitic comments he denies making.

Councillor Tanweer Khan, who represented the Mayfield ward for Labour, now sits as an independent on the council.

His administrative suspension from the party was announced at the start of the full council meeting on Thursday (March 21), on behalf of council leader Jas Athwal.

Cllr Khan, an entrepreneur who has long-standing aspirations of becoming a Labour MP, nodded in acknowledgement as the notice was read aloud to the chamber.

The allegations relate to posts made on the social media app Labayk, a now-defunct platform owned by Cllr Khan, that described other social media companies as “Jewish-owned”.

One such comment read: “I don’t understand why people are asking others on this platform to join their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp groups etc. These are pretty much all Jewish-owned platforms.

“With Al-Aqsa [a mosque in Jerusalem] being destroyed recently by Israelis [in May 2021], and Facebook deleting the accounts of Muslims, we should re-double our efforts to help the Ummah [the Muslim community] – not strengthen those that seek to weaken us.”

Though the posts were made under Cllr Khan’s name, he emphatically denies being behind them and instead blames a former local Labour Party member.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “These allegations date back to 2021, with stuff posted online by someone pretending to be me.

“As soon as I found out about them in December 2021, I had the posts taken down and informed the Labour Party immediately.”

A formal complaint was made to the party over the alleged comments in March 2022 and a second in November last year.

More than two years after they were made, the comments are now being investigated – but Cllr Khan said he suspected a “strong political motive” behind the timing.

He added: “The timing of this complaint is very suspect, as it coincides with an upcoming general election and when I am actively looking for a parliamentary seat.”

Cllr Khan unsuccessfully stood to be the Labour candidate for Pendle and Clitheroe, in his home county of East Lancashire, in October 2023, losing to Jonathan Hinder.

No timeline has been given for the investigation into Cllr Khan but he said he plans to return to Redbridge Labour, where he served as chair of the pension fund committee, once it has concluded.

He said: “I am 100 per cent confident of being cleared and exonerated of all these false charges against me – and I look forward to rejoining my wonderful colleagues in Redbridge Labour soon.”

Labayk, meaning ‘at your service,’ was launched by Cllr Khan in 2019 as a “safe and respectful” platform for both Muslims and non-Muslims, built on the Islamic principles of “peace, respect, kindness, truth and sincerity”.

Though the business is still actively registered, the platform no longer appears to be in use. Its Facebook page has been deleted and the website comprises a single page saying a new site is “coming soon”.

The Redbridge Labour Party did not respond to a request for a comment.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter