TWO Great Lever councillors have been criticised for travelling to Pakistan last year amid the coronavirus restrictions.

Labour representatives Cllr Mohammed Ayub and Cllr Mohammed Iqbal went to the country last year, despite the Foreign Office stating that from March 17, 2020, people were advised to only go there for “essential travel”.

In response, party bosses said the councillors made separate journeys to attend a wedding and a funeral.

A reader branded the travel as “wholly irresponsible” and “deeply demoralising”.

“Thousands of people have lost loved ones during this crisis, many have been unable to visit their loved ones, places of worship or attend funerals, and have cancelled weddings, holidays and other engagements,” he said.

Bolton Labour group leader Cllr Nick Peel said: “Collr Ayub and Cllr Iqbal left the UK on October 15 and October 18, respectively, for personal family commitments including a funeral and a wedding, in Pakistan. Prior to leaving the country, they both had the legal obligation to provide proof of Covid-19 negative test results, as a condition of entry, which they both did.

“Cllr Ayub arrived back in the UK on November 21 and Cllr Iqbal on December 2. The Pakistan authorities also required proof of Covid-19 negative test results before being allowed to travel back to the UK.

“This additional mandatory Covid-19 negative test requirement is over and above what many other countries required.

“While in Pakistan, both councillors followed the local restrictions that were in place, taking into account that there was not a full lockdown and that wedding venues were open as normal. On return to the UK, both councillors self-isolated for the requisite period of 14 days.

“There were obviously no government regulations that prohibited the travelling abroad during this time, and indeed, tens of thousands of UK residents did so during this period.

“New government restrictions on travel have only been introduced in the last few weeks.

“I’m satisfied that the allegation of a breach of Covid-19 regulations has no grounds.”

Bolton Council leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “I would expect the Labour group to take what appropriate disciplinary action they see fit.

"This is the first I have heard of these allegations.

"We are expected as councillors to lead by example, and certainly if there is undisputed evidence that breaches have occurred, then that is a serious matter.

"Only the electorate can remove councillors, but as has happened in other boroughs, I would expect the Labour group to take what appropriate disciplinary action they see fit."

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on