Mayor of Luton resigns after breaking lockdown rules by attending party

050820 Mayor of Luton
The mayor of Luton has resigned from his role after being filmed breaking lockdown rules. Credit: @MayorofLuton/Facebook

The mayor of Luton has resigned after being caught breaking lockdown rules to attend a party, just days after warnings about spikes of coronavirus in his town.

Video footage showed Labour Cllr Tahir Malik at a packed garden party with at least twelve other people in July, despite government rules allowing no more than six people or two households to meet at any one time.

Mr Malik apologised for "attending this gathering which was in breach of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions" and said he regretted his actions.

An investigation into Mr Malik's behaviour was carried out by Luton Borough Council after the Daily Telegraph released a video from the party showing the mayor ignoring social distancing rules.

The video surfaced shortly after Public Health England warned about a spike of coronavirus cases in the town, designating it an "area of intervention".

In the video Mr Malik can be seen with other Labour councillors laughing and eating.

In a statement, Mr Malik said: "Once again I regret my actions which were below the standard of my position and would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Luton for attending this gathering which was in breach of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

"There is no excuse for what I did – I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions."

The Labour mayor, who was appointed to his role in May last year, said he was planning to wait for the investigation to conclude, but decided "the best thing I could do for the town was resign from my position with immediate effect".

He added: "I have learnt a valuable lesson from this, but I hope the consequence of my actions serves as a reminder to the people of Luton of the importance of following the Covid-19 guidelines as it remains a real and serious threat."

The three councillors who attended the party released a statement at the time, saying they thought it "was going to be a small socially-distanced gathering, in line with the government guidelines".

The council said it received a number of complaints about the three councillors who admitted to attending the function.

Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council, thanked Mr Malik for his 15 months service.

"He made a mistake which he deeply regrets, and I know he and his family are really hurting right now," she said.

"What has happened is unfortunate, and I think it is right for him to step down at this time, but it’s important to recognise the fantastic contribution he has made to Luton."

He will be replaced by a new mayor following a council meeting on September 29.