Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman 'respects scrutiny'

Lutfur Rahman Image copyright PA
Image caption Lutfur Rahman told the court he has "a lot of respect for scrutiny"

The mayor of an east London borough accused of electoral fraud has told a special hearing in the High Court he had a "lot of respect for checks and balances".

Lutfur Rahman, independent mayor of Tower Hamlets, was giving evidence at an election court trial in London.

Mr Rahman, who denies any wrongdoing, said he made himself available for scrutiny.

Four voters have taken legal action against the mayor.

They have mounted a challenge under the provisions of the Representation Of The People Act.

They want Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey, who is sitting as a judge at the trial, to declare void the result of the May 2014 mayoral election, which saw Mr Rahman elected for a second term, and order a re-run.

'Invention and exaggeration'

Mr Rahman, who is the leader of the Tower Hamlets First party, told the court: "I have a lot of respect for checks and balances. I have a lot of respect for scrutiny.

"I make myself available for scrutiny to members of the public and to my fellow members in the council."

Lawyers for the group of voters have made a series of allegations, including "personation" in postal voting and at polling stations, and ballot paper tampering.

Mr Rahman says there is "little, if any" evidence of wrongdoing against him.

His lawyers have described the group of four's claims as invention, exaggeration and "in some cases downright deliberately false allegations".

Mr Rahman told the court he was advised by the council's chief legal officer that his human rights might be breached if he answered questions in council meetings about his "responsibilities".

He said he was given the advice after he was pressured to answer questions.

Mr Rahman, who was a solicitor who specialised in family cases, said he had not sought the advice but wanted to follow "correct procedure".

Mr Mawrey suggested such advice was "slightly surprising".

The trial started earlier this month and is expected to end in March.

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