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Labour ‘committed to fighting corruption’ amid ‘bribery’ probe

The claims relate to alleged corruption in obtaining of planning permission for a skyscraper development in Canary Wharf.

Labour has said it is “committed to fighting corruption” after it emerged police have received allegations of bribery linked to a councillor in east London.

The National Crime Agency has been passed information from Tower Hamlets Council said to relate to alleged corruption in obtaining of planning permission for a skyscraper development in Canary Wharf, according to The Sunday Times.

Following the publication of the claims, a Labour Party spokesman said: “Corruption steals from the many to line the pockets of the few.

“Labour is committed to fighting corruption in all its forms.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on the specifics of this case as it is now a police matter.”

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Sound governance and transparency has been at the heart of Tower Hamlets Council’s work since the change of leadership in 2015.

“This has included a new whistleblowing policy, clear processes for decision-making and the independent investigation of historic complaints of wrongdoing.

“Our planning process was not compromised in any way by the Alpha Square planning application.

“It was rejected by our strategic development committee in February 2016 with six councillors voting to reject it and two abstaining.

“Council officers recommended it for refusal.

“When the council was made aware of these allegations, we brought in an independent external investigator to gather evidence.

“Their findings were then assessed by a leading QC, who recommended that we report the matter to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

“We did this and the SFO then passed it onto the National Crime Agency for investigation.

“We are waiting to hear the outcome.

“We received strong advice from legal counsel not to take any further steps to investigate the matter as to do so could risk prejudicing a police investigation.

“This remains the position.”

The mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said since he was elected he has “worked tirelessly to combat corruption and wrong-doing”.

“When these allegations were raised with me I immediately made the chief executive and the council’s monitoring officer aware of them and passed over the material I was given for them to act upon,” he said.

“The council commissioned an external investigation to look into the allegations and gather evidence which was subsequently referred to the SFO.”

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