Leader of Brent Council denies claims he hid Kilburn councillor’s death to halt a by-election
PUBLISHED: 14:02 13 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:11 13 May 2016
The leader of Brent Council has sent out an email denying claims that he kept the death of a Kilburn councillor secret to avoid a by-election.
Cllr Muhammed Butt said he was “saddened that someone passed an email” alleging he knew of Cllr Tayo Oladapo’s death in January ahead of a public announcement in March.
An article in the Evening Standard claims he tried to “cover up” Cllr Oladapo’s death to avoid last week’s by-election.
The Labour group is holding its annual general meeting tomorrow where Cllr Butt’s leadership is being challenged.
In an email seen by the Times, Cllr Butt wrote: “I have been in contact with London region about the email and it’s wholly inaccurate contents.
“I do find it offensive and we have now gone to such lows that a friends and comrades death is being used for political point scoring.”
Cllr John Duffy, Cllr Olapado’s colleague in Kilburn, said: “Today this is all speculation, by tomorrow I think people will be saying this is wrong.
“Cllr Butt told me that Tayo had died around March 8. As far as I’m aware I was one of the first outside the cabinet to be told. “He told me he needed to get in contact with Tayo’s family before announcing it.
“The idea he tried to conceal if for a month before that, I don’t know, there’s no proof.”
He said that hiding the death to avoid the by-election also didn’t make sense.
He added: “When you issue a by-election you have to give at least six week’s notice. It’s a big ask to keep a dead body secret for two months. It’s relatively unlikely. In politic terms you might get your candidate in position but I don’t think you’d keep it quiet, it wouldn’t hold together.”
The 34-year-old councillor had a severe liver condition and died after a long illness.
Cllr Butt said his mother arrived from Nigeria and had officially registered his death on May 11 in Camden.
She has asked the council for support in arranging her son’s funeral.
Cllr Butt has failed to return calls from the Brent & Kilburn Times..
The London Labour Party has been contacted.