Shaun Bailey condemns Dalston’s ‘horrific’ homophobic ‘acid attack’

Shaun Bailey photographed for the Hackney Gazette outside City Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Shaun Bailey photographed for the Hackney Gazette outside City Hall. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The Tory candidate for mayor of London has condemned a “horrific” homophobic “acid attack” in Dalston, after its cowardly perpetrators were jailed last month.

Mayor of London funding will help deliver Redbrick Estate homes. Picture: PA

Mayor of London funding will help deliver Redbrick Estate homes. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

In an interview with the Gazette Mr Bailey also said he can put 1,800 extra police on the street without needing extra funding, protect “precious bus routes”, and work with Labour councils to find “more sites to house local people” in a mix of socially rented and market value properties.

But a string of historical comments on topics such as multiculturalism, abortion and the benefit system have marred is campaign to win-over London’s liberal voters ahead of the mayoral election in May 2020.

In one example, a Telegraph opinion piece in 2006, Bailey stated: “Any young girl living in the inner city will be clued up on how the system works.

“They won’t be too careful about not becoming parents. In some cases, they will deliberately become pregnant - as they know that if they do, they will get a flat.[..]

Top row: Huseyin Onel, Guven Ulas, Mehmet Tekegac, Mustafa Kiziltan. Bottom row: Yasam Erdogan, Onur

Top row: Huseyin Onel, Guven Ulas, Mehmet Tekegac, Mustafa Kiziltan. Bottom row: Yasam Erdogan, Onur Ardic, Serkan Kiziltan and Turgut Adakan. Pictures: CPS - Credit: Archant

“It is the same with benefits. These people are not stupid. If the state offers them money for doing something, they will do it.”

When asked why he made these inflammatory remarks, Mr Bailey said: “I never said that. I was having a conversation with some people who were pregnant.[...]

“What I was talking about is don’t let yourself be vulnerable.

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“We have a system now rewarding vulnerability and I was saying you need to understand what that moment does, so you win in one par of your life what does that mean in the rest of your life?”

Mr Bailey hadn’t heard about the homophobic “acid attack” in Dalson in May, or the gang of eight’s subsequent sentencing last month.

He hadn’t heard about the Islamophobic abuse that came next, either. Where a handful of trolls linked to a far-right American forum inundated the Gazette with vile comments assuming the attackers were Muslim because of their names. This hadn’t been discussed in court, so it wasn’t relevant.

“I don’t have to imagine what that feels like,” said Mr Bailey. “People making judgements about you because of who you are be your Christian, Muslim, Jew, gay, straight.

“I don’ think those American people quite understand what goes on in London so I think they should mind their own business and keep out of it.

“And plus, if you’re throwing acid on people that has very little to do with your race colour or creed for me that just make you a criminal.

“That has nothing to do with who you are other than the fact you’ve done something pretty horrific criminally.”

There are 13,000 people on Hackney’s housing waiting list – but Mr Bailey didn’t answer directly when asked if the Right to Buy (RTB) scheme should be scrapped so councils can retain their social housing stock.

But he said councils “have more access to money than they’ve had in the past” to build homes, pointing to the fact the Prime Minister last year lifted the theoretical cap on how much councils could borrow for development.

They still can’t, however, borrow down against future rental income – only against existing assets.

“The whole point of raising the cap is so they can get more money,” he said.

“And when you’re developing housing often it’s the land value that’s the problem, and the council often own the land.”

“In addition, under current rules, councils only receive 75 per cent of the money raised through RTB sales – the rest goes to central government, who also get the rest of the money if councils can’t find ways to spend it within very narrow rules in the space of three years.

“Mr Bailey has “some sympathy” with local authorities wanting to choose how they spend the full amount, as each is “aware of what it needs to do in its area”.

But he added: “It’s about financial control for the whole country because of course when councils borrow it adds to our national debt – it isn’t just the council debt – so you do have to have some caps and control.”

Mr Bailey doesn’t think councils should be able to dictate what per centage of a new development should be affordable, as he believes it should be set by government at “a strategic level”, albeit with some consultation with local authorities.

If elected mayor, Mr Bailey says he wouldn’t continue to use Mr Khan’s definition of “genuinely affordable” housing, which sets a target for 50 per cent of developments to include a mix of social rents, homes for the London Living Rent and shared ownership properties.

He wouldn’t revert to former mayor Boris Johnson’s policy of defining affordable as 80pc of the market rate, either.

“That’s a led question,” he said, adding: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Sadiq asked you to ask that.” (No, the mayor of London did not personally brief us ahead of this interview.)

He continued: “I would be looking for a new definition. {...]

“Sadiq’s definition, I think, is actually still pretty expensive, but in his defence you can’t get away from the realities of living in London and land is what drives housing costs in London. It’s super-expensive.

“You certainly wouldn’t be saying significantly more expensive [than Mr Khan’s definition} is realistic because of course people simply cannot pay that.

“So you’d be there, thereabouts – maybe slightly lower if you could find different ways of financing housing.”

The leader of the Greater London Authority Tories wants to find ways of “delivering land slightly cheaper”, and capitalising on “modern building techniques”, joint ventures between housing associations and developers, and alternating the proportion of “socially rented and full commercial rent” in new developments.

Police cuts

But the Assembly Member, who used to work as a special advisor to former PM David Cameron on youth crime and race, said: “Look, I’m on record as opposing most if not all of the cuts around anything to do with youth work in particular, and policing in general.

“Why I’d argue the mayor’s decisions have been bad is he’s spent so much money: £2.8million on his own office, another £1.8m on new press officers – and he’s had no look at the new technology we could be using.

“It’s not about losing money, it’s about losing lives.

“If Islington has had a reduction in amounts of crime, any crime – great news. [Moped crime, and knife crime among under-25s, fell in 2018.] But to be clear it’s still far worse than it’s ever been.

“And if you look at other police commissioners around the country they have achieved drops in crime with far less money. We are the best funded police force in the country.”

He claims Sadiq Khan had to be “dragged to the table” before he would entertain a “holistic approach”, such as the Glasgow model, which the mayor is now funding.

Scotland’s Violence Reduction Union was set up 2005 to combat knife crime in Glasgow, the former murder capital of Europe.

The approach, borrowed from 1990s Boston’s handbook, pushed doctors, police and social workers to intervene early by seeking out the causes of crime.

It has more than halved Glasgow’s stab deaths.

The Gazette asked Mr Bailey three times if cuts could be seen as a contributing factor to the record level of violent crime in the capital.

“No,” he said. “A contributing factor is what police do.

“I could give you 50million police tomorrow morning. If they’re not doing [the right] things, you’re not getting the outcomes you’re looking for.

“We could have employed slightly more civilian staff because they’re cheaper, to free up a police officer sitting in Scotland Yard to put them back on the streets.”

The mayoral elections are on May 7, 2020.