A widely-shared video yesterday showed Labour’s Mayor Sadiq Khan walking away from the protesters, ignoring their requests to stop and address his concerns, with one heard shouting: “Sadiq, please talk to us.” The group had hoped to speak to Mr Khan about their opposition to a lower traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in Bounds Green in north London.
Independent candidate Mr Rose, 49, a New York-born ex-Wall Street banker who has lived in London for 20 years, said: “This is beggars belief.
“Firstly, cowering in a coffee shop rather than addressing the questions of the protesters does paint Mr Khan as being a lily-livered individual.
“One has to ask what his police protection team was thinking – and why no arrests have been made if there was a genuine threat to anything other than the smooth running of yet another Khan photo opportunity.”
Mr Rose added: “Secondly, voters should be uneasy that the mayor’s team is using a coffee shop supported by taxpayer funds for political purposes.
“Khan has form for abusing his position this way – recently, he was pictured outdoors in a photo-op with police, during lockdown, while I was fined for running my campaign from a Covid-secure campaign bus. That sort of hypocrisy stinks.”
Referring to the substance of the protests, Mr Rose added: “Thirdly, low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) are indefensible, and that may be why Mr Khan ran away.”
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“Khan has been banging his drum in public while other candidates have been told they can’t use volunteers to get their messages out to voters.
“The whole thing stinks to high heaven. If it’s not a deliberate ploy by the mayor – whose job, remember, includes holding the Metropolitan Police to account – then he should explain why it’s okay for him to swan around with officers and photographers, while other candidates have their democratic rights restricted.”
He added: “Volunteers can’t leaflet, which by definition seems to imply that if you’re an independent candidate or smaller party, and don’t have the funds, then you can’t campaign.
“This seems to be a major violation of the democratic process.
“How can you hold free and fair elections if you can’t educate the public who the candidates are?”
A spokesman for London Labour said: “Sadiq makes absolutely no apologies for the bold action he’s taking to tackle toxic air pollution and make cycling in London easier and safer.
“The evidence shows an overwhelming majority of Londoners support these measures and the Tories who oppose them simply don’t share London’s values or concerns.”
Mr Khan has been London’s Mayor since 2016.
The Mayor election takes place on May 6.