An anti-fraud investigator claims he was sacked by London’s Tower Hamlets council – long-plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement - because he’s white and the subjects of his inquiries were Asian, and is seeking damages of £529,000 for racial and sexual discrimination.
Mark Edmunds joined the council in January 2010, and was part of the team responsible for hosting the Olympics before moving into fraud investigation.
Britain's first Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, won control of Tower Hamlets in October 2010 but was removed by a court for allegedly rigging his 2014 re-election.
When a BBC Panorama investigation raised serious concerns about fraud in the borough, Edmunds conducted a review of the youth service, which found youth grants had been used to bribe voters – 12 senior employees, all Asian, were dismissed as a result of his investigation.
However, he claims that following his review he was threatened and harassed and followed by a car, before being removed from his £63,000-a-year job in 2018. He claims his dismissal resulted from him being “a white man investigating a service predominantly staffed by Bangladeshi employees where the allegations of corruption were predominantly against Bangladeshi employees”.
“The threats and intimidation were very real and serious given the history of many of those I was investigating (ie ex-gang members and drug dealers). Additionally, while conducting investigations I was regularly accused of being a racist and a bully, when all I was doing was my job, in an attempt to intimidate me and derail the investigation process,” his witness statement says.
A union official, in an email seen by The Times, said it would be discriminatory for Edmunds as a “white male” to get a senior role rather than more experienced ethnic minority employees – Edmunds believes this to be ‘smoking gun’ proof of discrimination against him.
For its part, Tower Hamlets states it challenges the accuracy of his allegations and interpretation of events.