After the trauma of Nike BLM England’s penalty misses and the despair at Orpington grammar school girl and women’s 100m semi-final looser Geraldina Asher-Smith not being able to take an Olympic podium knee, the GP Bloodbath investigative team thought they might chill over a glass of Hooky while taking a relaxing leaf through the East London Advertiser.
Little did they realise. An article on the esteemed organ’s crime and punishment page caught the eye. The mysterious case of Apsana Begum, Labour Party MP for Poplar & Limehouse, beckoned.
The Honorable Miss Apsana Begum
One of the Middlesex Begums, Apsana Begum (not her real name, her father was Manir Uddin Ahmed, her mother, Syeda Nazma Begom) was born in Tower Hamlets on the 25th May 1990. She was educated at St Mary’s University of London, graduating in Politics in 2011. Miss Begum’s Wikipedia entry states upon leaving college she joined Tower Hamlets Council in the role of “Executive Support and Admin”. In fact, she worked in social housing, a vocation that runs through the family like a defective gene.
Apsana’s father, Manir, had been a Tower Hamlets councillor and an important colleague and ally of the subsequently disgraced Luther Rahman. In 2004 Manir was mayor of the borough while Rahman represented Spitalfields and Banglatown.
According to documents lodged at Companies House, Manir was also a director of Tower Hamlets Community Housing Limited (THCHL) who rented and operated housing association real estate.
An entry in Hansard tells us that THCHL was the housing trust that Tower Hamlets disposed 2,322 council properties to in 1998.
In keeping with the spirit of disposing of council homes, the Uddin-Begum-Begoms had bought their own property, part of Foley House block in Tarling Street, East London, under ‘Right to Buy’. By 2003, two-bedroom flats in the complex were changing hands for £73,000. In the present day, a four-bedroom flat is valued at close to half a million pounds.
After four years and four different positions within the housing department, Apsana had risen to be a Workforce Diversity Project Officer for Tower Hamlets Homes. She was also an £18,000 advisor to Luther Rahman, by now the borough’s executive mayor.
The Rise and Fall Luthur Rahman
Rahman had become the leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group and leader of the council by 2010. He had intended to stand as Labour candidate for the position of mayor but was removed by the party’s National Executive Committee following a barrage of allegations regarding vote-rigging and Islamic extremism. Instead, Rahman stood as an independent. He won, becoming the executive mayor of Tower Hamlets in October of that year.
Following a controversial four years, Rahman was re-elected by now leader of his own party, Tower Hamlets First.
Subsequently, the result was declared void after an excoriating 2015 report from the Electoral Commission highlighting corrupt and illegal practices blamed on the “ruthless ambition of one man” that drove “a coach and horses through electoral law.”
The BBC listed some of the upheld allegations against Rahman:
- Voting fraud: ballots were double-cast or cast from false
- False statements made against Mr Rahman’s rival Mr Briggs
- Bribery: large amounts of money were given to organisations who were “totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility”
- Treating: providing free food and drink to encourage people to vote for Mr Rahman
- Spiritual influence: voters were told that it was their duty as Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman. [Election Commissioner] Mr Mawrey cited a letter signed by 101 Imams in Bengali stating it was people’s “religious duty” to vote.
It was at this point that newspaper investigations showed Rahman’s £18,000 payment made to Miss Begum.
The Rise of Apasana Begum
As Mr Rahman’s star sank (he was banned from office by the High Court), Miss Begum’s continued to rise. In 2017 she was elected secretary of Tower Hamlets Labour Party.
However, her higher profile attracted prying eyes. On 18th December 2018 a Freedom of Information request asked if the family’s Foley House property was registered as a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) with Apsana’s mother as a private landlord. 
Tower Hamlets replied that no application had been made and, in any case, the property didn’t need a manditory HMO until the following April.
Sure enough, next year the flat appears on the register  with Mrs Syeda Nazma Begom as the private landlord of a multiple occupancy dwelling.
As the December 2019 general election approached, Apsana was chosen as the Labour candidate in her local safe seat of Poplar & Limehouse, one of two Tower Hamlets constituencies – the other being Bethnal Green & Bow.
The East London Advertiser headlined the controversial selection process with “Police Called in amid chaos as Labour selects Lutfur Rahman’s election candidate for Poplar and Limehouse’ The article went on to say,
The selection meeting packed with 500 supporters amid scenes of chaos chose Apsana Begum from a controversial shortlist of just two women.
Many rank-and-file party members couldn’t get into the meeting held at St Paul’s Church in Bow Common as the crowd blocked the pavement in Burdett Road.
But Apsana won an easy victory from supporters of Rahman who was barred from office by the High Court in 2015 for corruption and malpractice.
The meeting was an hour late starting, as the chaos in the street grew with hundreds of party members trying to get in.
Among the mayhem, Tower Hamlets councillor Kevin Brady tweeted, “Lots of intimidation, shouting, men jostling, huge queues to get in, people leaving as it was too intense, particularly women.” Louise Leak tweeted, “Still not started, still people coming in. Was told it was 4:30 pm start. Loads queued from 3:30 pm. Utter ridiculous disorganisation. What about those with kids, the elderly, the disabled?”
Begum was standing against the Labour Party’s preferred candidate, Councillor Amena Ali, an ally of Tower Hamlets mayor John Briggs who had replaced the disgraced Rahman. Tellingly, Miss Ali is a Somali in a constituency where Bangladeshi’s are the largest ethnicity, even outnumbering the white British population.
Apsana won the vote with the hall packed with hundreds of Bengali Labour Party members and went on to take her place in the Commons with a majority of nearly 29,000.
During the election campaign her closeness to Rahman and her own council house tenancy became issues, with criticism of both being shouted down as racism, sexism, misogyny and Islamophobia.
Once an MP, her website  showed her politics to be nutty Momentum. In a series of statements (spelt ‘stement’) she outlines her views. Despite an 18,000 long housing waiting list in Tower Hamlets, she is in favour of open borders. She is in favour of giving votes to non-British residents (ie refugees and illegal immigrants). In a video clip, she declares two-thirds of her constituents to be BAME. Unwittingly but appropriately, she pronounces the word ‘barmy’.
Apsana also has the gall to be committed to fighting anti-Semitism despite being named and shamed in the Labour Party’s ant-Semitism investigation, having re-tweeted messages accusing Tony Blair of ‘spreading Zionist propaganda’ and claiming the Saudi’s were ‘inspired by Zionist masters’.
Miss Begum is a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and Labour Friends of Bangladesh.
The Case Against Apsana Begum
After the election, formal complaints were made regarding Miss Begum’s council property tenancy. The resulting enquiry by Tower Hamlets resulted in the MP being charged with three counts of fraud.
I am grateful to the East End Enquirer for providing a timeline regarding Miss Begum’s residency between 2011 and 2016 and a summary of the allegations made against her in court.
In July 2011, Ms Begum registered for social housing while living at the family home. It was alleged that she claimed she was living in overcrowded conditions, so moved up the social housing waiting list.
In 2013, Miss Begum left the family home and moved in with her husband Ehtasham Haque in his property. It was alleged that she did not notify the council of this change in her circumstances.
Between 2013 and 2014, bids for social housing continued in Ms Begum’s name.
In 2015 Miss Begum’s marriage failed with her moving back into the family home, allegedly without her notifying the council of a change in her circumstances.
In 2016, still on the housing list as living in overcrowded conditions, she was awarded the tenancy of a £330,000 studio flat – allegedly falsely.
Further thanks to the East End Enquirer.
However, while Miss Begum was claiming to be one of four residents in a three-bedroom home (with herself not having her own room), her mother and aunt described a four-bedroom flat in their benefits claims, with one room being partitioned into two.
Eyebrows were also raised as the waiting list in Tower Hamlets is ordinarily fifteen years long. And raised further as Miss Begum was allocated ahead of families with children when jumping 18,000 places in the queue.
Mr Haque and Miss Begum do appear at the same property on the electoral register in the years in question. However, a jeroboam of Bengali Houq Notun Houqi will be awarded to any Puffin who can find the marriage certificate.
The Interesting Mr Ehtasham Haque
Mr Haque is the Tower Hamlets Labour Councillor for Blackwall and Cubit Town. Puffins will be unsurprised to hear that he is also a member of Tower Hamlets Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Sub-committee.
His present wife is Sabina Akhtar, the councillor for Stepney Green. His registered interests include membership of the Labour Friends of Bangladesh and of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, those nice people who organise ‘Israel Apartheid Week’.
Laughably, he is also a member of the campaign for Labour Party Democracy.
Mr Haque describes as a PhD Student, self-employed freelance researcher and policy worker. His LinkedIn profile states him to be a research consultant at Kings College, London, and a Post Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Exeter.
His CV includes a number of spells in training development with the Government of Bangladesh. During Mr Rahman’s time as mayor, Mr Haque was a Strategy and Policy wallah at Tower Hamlets where he “delivered consistent and clear advice to managers, employees and HR colleagues on People Strategy, workforce planning and Talent Management.”
Between July 2010 and September 2010 Mr Haque was a researcher at the House of Commons for Bethnal Green and Bow MP, Rushanara Ali.
On Friday 30th July 2021 at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Miss Begum was found not guilty of fraud. The jury believing her defence that her “controlling and coercive” ex-husband made bids for social housing without her knowledge.
The prosecution had pointed out that Mr Haque could not have made social housing claims by himself, as he would have needed Ms Begum’s application details. Added to which all correspondence would have been sent to the Begum’s family home. The prosecution also noted that calls Miss Begum claims she made to inform the council of her changes of circumstance did not appear in any logs.
Mr Haque issued his own statement after the conclusion of the trial.
I am aware that a number of serious allegations were made against me during this trial. At no point was I given an opportunity to respond to a number of false and defamatory accusations.
I completely deny that at any stage I behaved inappropriately towards Apsana Begum during our marriage.
These allegations come as a surprise to me as they are the first time I have heard Apsana make such accusations against me. Our separation a number of years ago was amicable and I have been in Apsana’s company whilst campaigning for the Labour Party many times since.
Upon being cleared, Ms Begum burst into tears before laying the domestic abuse, vexatious charges, sexism, racism, violent relationship survivor and Islamophobia cards.
Meanwhile, the Foley House multiple occupancy property of which Apsana’s mother, Mrs Bogom, is private landlord now appears on a lettings website as a further partitioned six-bedroom property. Given local property prices, this could provide a rental income of over £4000 a month as six single rooms in a flatshare.
According to Trust for London, social rents in the capital are typically £420a month.
Do the math.
 Hansard, note (r)
 East End Enquirer, Fraud Trial of Apsana Begum Begins
 BBC, Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman removed
 Freedom of Information Request
 Freedom of Information Response
 Tower Hamlets HMO Register
 East London Advertiser, Labour General Eection Poplar Limehouse
 Daily Mail, expenses cheat Uddin campaigns for Begum
 Zoopla, Mrs Begom’s Foley House Multiple Occupancy rental
 On The Market, typical Tower Hamlets flat share price
 Trust for London, Rental Affordability
© Always Worth Saying 2021
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