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London’s Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman found guilty of election corruption

 
 

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman has
been thrown out of office after being found
guilty of corruption and illegal practices
during election.
The results of his re-election as mayor of the
east London borough in 2014 was declared
‘void’ by Election Commissioner Richard
Mawrey, who sat as a judge in the special
High Court hearing.
The Bangladesh-born politician was banned
from contesting any more elections and
ordered to vacate his post immediately.
The court also slapped a £250,000 fine on
Rahman and convicted Alibor Choudhury, his
Cabinet Member for Resources, of illegal
practices.
Rahman’s party ‘Tower Hamlets First’ told
the BBC they were seeking legal advice for a
judicial review against the ‘shocking’
judgment.
The election commissioner, however, said
Tower Hamlets First was “never really a
party but the alter ego of Lutfur Rahman”.
An independent social democrat, Rahman
was elected in last year’s May by a margin
of 3,000 votes.
He was dragged to court by four voters who
accused him of running a systematic
campaign of intimidation.
Rahman was also accused of bribing
religious groups, tempering with ballot
papers, fraud in postal voting and also at
polling stations.
The group of voters led by Andy Erlam filed
a 70-page dossier in August last year.
Rahman massively breached election rules
and ‘didn’t care’, said Election
Commissioner Mawrey.
He played the “race” and “religious” cards to
gain ground against Labour Party rival John
Biggs, said Election Commissioner Mawrey
to outline his conclusion.
The first Muslim elected mayor in Britain ran
a “ruthless and dishonest campaign to
convince electorate his rival Biggs was a
racist.”
Tower Hamlets has the largest concentration
of Bangladeshis in the UK, a total of 32
percent.
‘Considerable disquiet’ was caused by
Rahman’s supporters on polling day, said
the judge, and that corrupt practices had
“extensively prevailed”.
As a witness, Rahman had been ‘evasive’
and ‘untruthful on occasion,’ said Mawrey.
‘Proud to be controversial’
The now-disgraced mayor of Tower Hamlets
had verbally attacked UK Local Government
Minister Eric Pickles, saying he was proud of
being wrapped in controversies.
In November, Pickles, the communities
secretary, ordered a government-
commissioned investigation that found
evidence of financial irregularities in the
Tower Hamlets council.
Three administrators were appointed to keep
the local government department informed.
It also found a “lack of transparency” in the
process of awarding grants.
The probe had accused Rahman of
‘inappropriate expenditure’ of public fund on
his political advertising.
But Rahman rejected all evidence of fraud.
It is widely alleged that Rahman received
funding and support from the Jamaat-e-
Islami, whose activities are headed in the UK
by Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin.
Mueen-Uddin is a death-row fugitive
convicted of murdering Bengali intellectuals
during the Liberation War.
The Al-Badr operative from 1971 garners
much of Jamaat’s funds from a strong
support base centered at East London
Mosque, it is also alleged.
Andrew Gilligan, senior journalist for the
Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph,
dubbed Rahman as ‘an extremist-linked
mayor’ in his blog.
Gilligan also accused him of ‘religious
favouritism’ and taking ‘close help from
Islamic extremists’ to win as Labour
councillor of Tower Hamlets in 2008.
He later stood against the official mayor
candidate of the party as an independent in
2010 and came to be the first Bengladeshi to
hold the post.
He launched ‘Tower Hamlets First’ for
contesting in the borough, six months before
the 2014 election.

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