London

Tower Hamlets election fraud mayor 'mulls judicial review'

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Media captionAn east London election has been declared void and will have to be re-run

A London mayor convicted of electoral fraud and removed from office is considering launching a judicial review.

An election commissioner concluded Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman used "corrupt and illegal practices" in last year's election, which will be re-run.

Mr Rahman, who denied any wrongdoing, has been banned from standing again.

But Oliur Rahman, the deputy mayor of the east London borough, said Lutfur Rahman was seeking legal advice.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Petitioners Andy Erlam, Angela Moffat and Azmal Hussein accused Lutfur Rahman of electoral fraud

Oliur Rahman (no relation) also told BBC Radio 4's Today programme "institutional racism" is a problem in Tower Hamlets, saying those who say otherwise are "very much mistaken".

The directly-elected mayor was found "personally" guilty of wrongdoing and "guilty by his agents", by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey.

Mr Mawrey, who analysed evidence at an election court trial in London earlier this year, said his ruling meant the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election was void and would have to be re-run.

In his Election Court judgement, he said the mayor had "driven a coach and horses through election law and didn't care".

The election commissioner upheld a number of the allegations, including:

  • Voting fraud: ballots were double-cast or cast from false addresses
  • False statements made against Mr Rahman's rival John Biggs
  • Bribery: large amounts of money were given to organisations who were "totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility"
  • Treating: providing free food and drink to encourage people to vote for Mr Rahman
  • Spiritual influence: voters were told that it was their duty as Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman

"This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation," he said.

"It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man."

Mr Mawrey also described Bangladesh-born Mr Rahman as an "evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion" and suggested he had played "race" and "religious" cards.

Deputy mayor Oliur Rahman told Today that the judge's decision had come as a "shock to many".

Asked if Lutfur Rahman had been divisive, he replied: "That is the view of the judge. In the community, people might have a different view."

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Image caption Labour candidate John Biggs was falsely branded a racist

Four voters took legal action against Lutfur Rahman under the provisions of the Representation Of The People Act.

The group was headed by Andy Erlam, who stood as a councillor on an anti-corruption ticket.

Mr Erlam said Mr Mawrey's ruling was "fantastic for democracy" but he said more inquiries were needed.

The Met Police said it takes allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice extremely seriously and would take time to consider the election judgement.

The re-run poll will be held on 11 June, the council has confirmed.

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