Lutfur Rahman Mayor of Tower Hamlets Loses Case in High Court
Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, has been removed from office on the grounds of corruption, bribery, and vote rigging. The verdict was delivered by Judge Richard Mawrey QC in the Royal Courts of Justice, after a civil action was initiated by four petitioners from the area in order to have the May 2014 mayoral election declared void. The case is regarded as one of the most extraordinary of recent times. Mr Rahman was ordered to pay £250,000 costs and was barred from standing in the new election to be held in June.
The essential findings of the court were:
• Making false statements against a candidate – guilty.
• Distributing grants – guilty of bribery, treating and undue influence.
• Undue spiritual influence – guilty.
• Voter intimidation – not guilty. The judge stated that though there was clear intimidation, there was not a demonstration of a serious level of violence.
Judge Mawrey said: “The evidence laid before this court, limited though it necessarily was to the issues raised in the petition, has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets.”
He said Rahman had played the ‘race card’ and the ‘Islamophobia card’ throughout the election, and would probably continue to do so after the judgement. “He was an evasive witness – Rahman was no doubt behind illegal and corrupt practices.” Further, he had told ‘a pack of lies’ in the witness box.
Breitbart London’s journalist team caught a sense of the atmosphere on polling day when it noted multiple irregularities across the borough:
There may now be a police investigation into Lutfur Rahman’s activities before and during office. The Metropolitan Police had previously reviewed evidence relating to Lutfur Rahman but had decided there were no subtantial grounds to prosecute. The new judgement may now reverse that decision.
Alibor Choudhary, Rahman’s election agent, was also banned as a councillor with immediate effect.
Rahman has continued to assert his innocence, stating on his personal website www.lutfurrahman.com “Today’s judgment has come as a shock – the Mayor strongly denies any wrongdoing and had full confidence in the justice system, and so this result has been surprising to say the least.”
The judge’s findings are among the most damning in any political case of recent times, and point to extensive and systematic corruption in Tower Hamlets. “In administering the grants policy, Mr Rahman acted in total disregard of the council’s officers, its members and, almost certainly, the law,” he said. The suggestion is that grants were allocated to buy votes across the borough.
The repercussions of the court case are still being assessed.