September 21 2014 Latest news:
Adam Barnett, Reporter
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Police are treating anti-gay posters targeting a former councillor as a “hate crime” as two more posters appeared near his home this morning.
Last week the posters, which accused former Lib Dem councillor Nigel McCollum of paedophilia, were condemned by councillors as homophobic “smears” after they were discovered in Bow, but police said they were “open-minded” about the motive.
Tower Hamlets police confirmed today that they are now treating the poster campaign as a hate crime after further enquiries.
Mr McCollum, who is gay and in a long term relationship, spoke at a full council meeting the night before the posters started about £1.6million spent on developments in Roman Road.
He was called by a police officer at 8.30 today and told that two new posters have been found.
The posters feature a recent photograph of the former Bow East councillor and listed his contact details.
Mr McCollum, in his first public comment on the posters, said: “I’m really upset about the whole thing.
“This abuse has not reared its head for seven years, and then when I go to council to represent a disabled resident, within hours this happens.”
Mr McCollum was a councillor from 2002 to 2006 and received hate mail making similar accusations, which were referred to the police.
This abuse influenced his decision not to stand for re-election in 2006, and the harassment stopped when his plans were announced.
Lib Dem councillor Dr Stephanie Eaton said: “To post anonymous homophobic attacks about a resident and former councillor simply because he has raised legitimate questions about public spending is cowardly and unacceptable.
“It is an attack on all people involved in local politics, and one which has the potential to deter LGBT people from public service.”
Anyone with information should call the Community Safety Unit at Limehouse Police Station on 020 7275 4758 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.