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Mayor of Southwark: I based my speech on Vladimir Putin

London SE1 website team

The Russian president is an unlikely inspiration for Southwark's Mayor, but Cllr Jeff Hook has told a council meeting that he'd based his speech at the Soviet War Memorial last week on an address given in Moscow five years ago by Vladimir Putin.

Cllr Jeff Hook
Cllr Jeff Hook speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial

The annual Victory Day ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial at Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park was attended by dozens of war veterans and included speeches by the Mayor of Southwark, the Russian ambassador and Simon Hughes MP.

Giving his farewell address at Southwark Town Hall to mark the end of his mayoral year, Cllr Jeff Hook revealed the secret behind his speech at this year's Anglo-Russian ceremony.

With the Victory Day commemoration coming at the end of a busy week that had included polling day for the general and local elections, two gruelling days of election counts followed by the Southwark Civic Awards on Saturday, the Mayor found himself short of time to prepare a speech for the Sunday morning ceremony.

So he turned to the internet and found a "fantastic" speech given by then Russian president Vladimir Putin on Victory Day 2005.

He told council assembly: "I reviewed its content, and made a number of significant changes to the wording to avoid any suggestions of plagiarism, but following its structure whilst being factual, and keeping its inspirational nature whilst avoiding the obvious communist Russian rhetoric."

"It appeared to go down well and received the appropriate applause."

During his mayoral year Cllr Hook has attended more than 450 engagements in the borough. He has been raising money for the Help for Heroes charity and hopes to announce the total amount raised shortly.

• On Wednesday night Cllr Hook handed over to the new Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Tayo Situ. His deputy will be Cllr Lorraine Lauder. During his mayoral year Cllr Situ will raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Listen to Cllr Hook's speech at the Soviet War Memorial and compare it to Vladimir Putin's text.

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