Cricket bats and cakes among unusual gifts to Islington councillors

The latest list of gifts �given to councillors has revealed some unusual presents, including a prayer rug, a cricket bat and dinner with Mexican politicians.

A register of all gifts worth �25 or more received by �members of the council is �published every six months to enure no bribery takes place.

Cllr Mouna Hamitouche, former Mayor of Islington representing Barnsbury ward, was given the most out of the whole council between July and December last year.

She was flown to Algeria, in north Africa, on two separate occasions and given �accommodation plus 500 �euros spending money to give speeches. The Somali Women Speakers also presented her with a prayer rug after she delivered a talk.

As Mayor of Islington, Cllr Hamitouche was the first Arab mayor in the UK and is a popular public speaker.

The leader of the council, Cllr Catherine West, was �given a handmade pottery dish, an Arsenal scarf and bought dinner by business groups and a museum.

She was also given a Christmas cake, which she donated to charity, and two Arsenal tickets, the value of which she donated to charity. Other gifts included dinner at Morgan M, in Liverpool Road, with members of the of Mexican government, which Cllr Phil Kelly, Mayor of Islington, and Cllr Richard Watts, the executive member for children and famililes, both attended. The Mexicans had been visiting the Islington Ecology Centre, in Gillespie Park, as guests of the Commons.

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Cllr Andy Hull, representing Highbury West, is a keen cricket fan and was given a cricket bat from Pakistan by a friendly shopkeeper.

Some members saw fit to decline or donate gifts. Cllr Richard Greening, Islington Councils executive member for finance, refused a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates given to him by a resident he had helped get more housing points.

And Cllr Gary Doolan, vice chair of a licensing sub committee, was given a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of gin to say thank you for casework he had done on behalf of a resident. He gave both away to the Mayor’s charity.

The council’s code of �conduct specifies that councillors must disclose “the interests of any person from whom you have received a gift or hospitality with an �estimated value of at least �25”.