Cllr Tahir Malik was caught on camera at a packed garden party with at least 12 others laughing and eating last month. He and two other councillors who appeared in the video posted online were forced to apologise. Now, he has announced he is quitting his role.
The garden party was held in Luton on July 21 – days before Public Health England named the town an “area of intervention” due to the rise in the number of fresh COVID-19 infections.
In one snap he can be seen sitting at a table with a face mask hanging around his neck while failing to keep two metres away from other party-goers.
All attendees at the gathering in the Bedfordshire town appear to be men and no one apart from Mr Malik can be seen with a mask.
The men appear to be praying and Mr Malik can be seen sitting in a chair in a garden with his hands turned upwards.
Bowls of food line the long table under a Gazebo as the men crowd around.
Luton Borough Council conducted an investigation after the Daily Telegraph released the video of the party in which the mayor could be seen breaking social distancing rules.
Mr Malik said: “Once again I regret my actions which were below the standard of my position and would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Luton for attending this gathering which was in breach of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
“There is no excuse for what I did – I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
He added that it was a “great honour” to serve as Mayor of Luton for the past 15 months.
Mr Malik insisted he has learned an important message from his decison to break the rules.
He said: “I have learned a valuable lesson from this, but I hope the consequence of my actions serves as a reminder to the people of Luton of the importance of following the Covid-19 guidelines as it remains a real and serious threat.”
Council Leader Hazel Simmons said: “What has happened is unfortunate, and I think it is right for him to step down at this time, but it’s important to recognise the fantastic contribution he has made to Luton.”
A new mayor will be appointed at a council meeting at the end of September.
After the video surfaced online, the three councillors who attended the function released a statement saying they thought it “was going to be a small socially-distanced gathering, in line with the government guidelines”.
Luton Council said it received multiple complaints about he councillors’ actions which would be addressed through the authority’s standards process.
Under the coronavirus restrictions gatherings of up to six people are permitted, meaning the party had twice the number of people alllowed.
Liberal Democrat leader in Luton, David Franks, had called for the three councillors – Mr Malik, Asif Masood and Waheed Akbar – to resign or be “kicked out” of the Labour Party.
Mr Franks said Labour needed to investigate the matter.
He told the BBC: “What we’ve seen is a corporate apology, manufactured and delivered by the Labour Party press office.
“To count for anything an apology needs to sound and look as though they mean it.”
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Published at Wed, 05 Aug 2020 16:37:00 +0000