By Man of Kent
In my article Bangladosh I promised to follow up with the story of Baroness Uddin, as the corruption of East End Muslims was too much to fit in one piece. Here it is.
Baroness Uddin was born in a Bangladeshi village. She moved with her parents to London in 1973, when she was 13, and grew up in the East End, where her family were given a council house.
She began her ascent to power and riches as a pushy, precocious adolescent speaking poor English who had been in the country just five years.
She formed and led ‘community working groups’.
Then, aged 20, she got a job as a Youth and Community worker with the YWCA; then she became a liaison officer for Tower Hamlets Social Services; and then manager of Tower Hamlets Women’s Health Project.
She then worked for Newham social services. In 1990 she became the second Uddin to be elected a Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets, following Abbas Uddin, and the first Bangladeshi woman to hold such an office of a local authority in Britain.
She then became the deputy leader of Tower Hamlets council. Having long campaigned for increasing the skills of South Asian women, she created the first purpose-built education and training centre for them in Britain, the Jagonari Centre, in the East End.
This is the sort of career that usually can, at most, as one approaches retirement age, be rewarded with an MBE. But for some reason she was raised to the peerage, aged only 38.
She swore in by saying ‘Allahu akbar’ while holding a copy of the Koran as she took her seat in the House of Lords.
(The first Muslim life peer, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham, also took his oath on the Koran, as did our most senior Muslim politician, Baroness Warsi.)
Baroness Uddin was the youngest woman on the benches and the only Bangladeshi woman to be appointed to the Lords, to which she was invited ‘for her contribution to the advancement of women and of disability rights’.
Her fraudulent activities quickly followed. Not only did she claim more than £100,000 between 2005 and 2010 by stating her main residence was a small flat in Maidstone, Kent, when in fact it was her Tower Hamlets heavily-subsidised housing association house, she also claimed mileage to Kent even though neighbours said the flat had never been occupied and remained unfurnished.
This also allowed her to claim the second-home allowance on her London house, a scheme that ostensibly exists to compensate politicians living outside London for the cost of accommodation close to Parliament.
Her London home is owned by Spitalfields Housing Association, which gets more than £37.8m a year from the taxpayer. The average rent for its properties is £124 a week, a sixth of the market rate.
With stunning hypocrisy, Baroness Uddin has had the gall to make a speech in the House of Lords about the plight of 25,000 families on the waiting list for social housing in East London.
Her husband even denied having a property in Kent when questioned on the issue, and she has appeared on the electoral roll at her London address from 1996 to date.
Additionally her Facebook page states how she has lived in the East End of London for more than 30 years.
Baroness Uddin claimed £29,675 for accommodation in 2007/8, when the maximum daily accommodation claim was £165 a day.
Her bill represents a claim at the maximum possible rate for 179 days, more days than the Lords actually sat that year.
Scottish National Party MP Angus Robertson called for an investigation by House of Lords authorities and the police.
Based on Land Registry records, it shows Baroness Uddin bought the flat in central Maidstone for £155,000 in 2005.
She has in fact claimed her main home has been outside London since 2001, earning an extra £83,000 as a result.
Despite repeated questioning she refused to state the location and details of her main home for which expenses were also claimed. Baroness Uddin also has one of the highest claims for overnight subsistence of any member of the Lords.
Legally, a housing association tenant must live in social housing as their ‘only or principal home’, so she could have breached her agreement.
But because the tenancy is joint with her husband, the housing association says it cannot (or will not) evict her.
Peter Golds, the Tory group leader on Tower Hamlets Council, has written to Housing Minister Grant Shapps demanding her eviction.
‘It’s scandalous that a state-funded housing association has not kicked her out,’ he said. ‘Lady Uddin is depriving a low-income family of a home which was built for the needy at public expense.’
The House of Lords authorities passed her case to the police for possible prosecution for fraud. The Daily Telegraph reported that she was refusing to co-operate with the police investigation, declining to answer any questions.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced that she would not face any charges on the grounds that a senior parliamentary official ruled that a peers’ ‘main house’ might be a place they visit only once a month. There were no indications that the expenses would be paid back.
Further expenses claims by Baroness Uddin were later discovered when the Sunday Times revealed that her family owns a mansion in Bangladesh.
The mansion was described as made of Italian marble with tiles and mosaics. It was built after she became a peer.
The Sunday Times wrote: ‘A Labour baroness who lives in low-cost social housing has a palatial family holiday mansion overseas. Baroness Uddin lives in a three-bedroom house in Wapping, East London, which is heavily subsidised because it is intended for people who cannot afford to buy property in the area.
‘However, for almost a decade her husband Komar has also owned the mansion in Bangladesh, which is decorated with Italian marble and bears a crest similar to that of the House of Lords on its gates.’
The Uddins’ mansion overlooks a river in a market town where Komar comes from. One source said he proudly filmed the entire construction process and used to boast about every little detail of the costs, from the specially carved doors to the marble brought in from Italy.
The Sunday Times continued, ‘At the same time, the Uddin family has continued to live in the Wapping house. The area has some of the most desperate housing needs in the country.
‘The Uddins are likely to pay about £6,000 in rent a year for their house, based on average prices for properties owned by the housing association.
This is a third of the cost of normal commercial rents for a property of that size.
‘There are still unanswered questions about claims by Uddin for the period between 2001 and 2005.
She got £83,000 in overnight allowances for staying in London - even though she bought the Maidstone flat only in September 2005.
‘One of Uddin’s friends said she had not owned a property in the UK before her brother bought the Maidstone flat on her behalf. Uddin said her main home in 2001-5 was a property outside the capital but has failed to provide any evidence for this, despite repeated questions. From September 2005 she designated the Maidstone flat as her main home.
This enabled her to claim about £100,000, even though her closest neighbours said they had never seen her there.’
A plumber who went into the flat said it looked like someone had left it ages ago. It was very dusty. There was an old mattress on the floor of one bedroom, where the bed was not made.
In the other bedroom was a fold-up clothes dryer. He confirmed the flat did not look lived in.
However, Uddin claimed she travelled by car to and from the Maidstone flat at least every week the Lords was sitting.
This allowed her to also claim £2,000 in mileage.
On October 18th 2010 the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee ruled that Baroness Uddin had ‘acted in bad faith’ and recommended that she should be asked to repay £125,349 as well as being suspended from Parliament until Easter 2012.
But in November 2011 it was revealed that no formal mechanism existed to prevent Baroness Uddin’s return to the House of Lords, even if she refused to repay the expenses that were fraudulently claimed, leading many members of her own party to call for her to resign rather than bring the House of Lords into further disrepute.
Still, in December 2011 the House Committee in the Lords recommended that Uddin not be allowed back to the Lords until the outstanding expenses had been repaid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pola_Uddin,_Baroness_Uddin - cite_note-32
The amount of money quoted in her case, £125,349, is probably the largest amount in any of the House of Commons or House of Lords expenses scandals.
But, like so many of her kind, she thumbs her nose at the authorities. She has kept her title, remains living in the Tower Hamlets house paying rent heavily subsidised by taxpayers, has not faced criminal charges nor repaid a penny.
Uddin, who has held highly-paid directorships in companies such as Carlton Television, claims she cannot afford to repay the £125,000.
Discounting the fictitious programme EastEnders, the East End of London is known mainly for bearing the brunt of Nazi bombing. What a tragic irony that it is now home to a horde of invasive foreigners whose leaders, as well as becoming increasingly active and powerful in British politics with a view to conquering the country, are also shamelessly, utterly corrupt.