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Lutfar Rahman Found Guilty of “corrupt and illegal practices” in Tower Hamlets Election.

with 33 comments

Guilty of ‘Corrupt and Illegal Practices”. 

Lutfur Rahman found guilty of illegal practices in Tower Hamlets election.

Hat tips to: SH, DT, Rosie and Adam.

Reports the BBC.

An east London mayoral election has been declared void and will have to be re-run after he was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey concluded Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman had breached election rules.

Four voters took legal action against Mr Rahman, who they alleged used “corrupt and illegal practices” in the election last year.

Mr Rahman, who denied any wrong-doing, has been banned from standing again.

‘Evasive and discursive’

At the special High Court hearing, Mr Mawrey said the mayor had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care”.

He added Rahman, who had been elected for a second term in the east London borough, would be “incapable” of standing in the new election.

Mr Mawrey – who sat as a judge – described Mr Rahman as “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion”.

The four voters mounted the legal challenge under the 1983 Representation of the People Act.

Lawyers for the four made a series of allegations – including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.

Lawyers for Mr Rahman, who was re-elected for independent party Tower Hamlets First last May, described the claims as “invention”, “exaggeration” and “in some cases downright deliberately false allegations”.

However the Election Commissioner said that Tower Hamlets First was “never really a party but the alter ego of Lutfur Rahman”.

One of Mr Rahman’s aides Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Rahman has been ordered to pay  £250,000 costs.


The mayor of Tower Hamlets has been kicked out of office after being found guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes.

Judge Richard Mawrey QC handed down his verdict on Thursday after a 10-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A group of four residents had called for last May’s mayoral election, in which Rahman triumphed over Labour rival John Biggs, to be declared void and rerun.

Rahman – who is Britain’s first directly-elected Muslim mayor – won the ballot after a campaign of “intimidation and corruption”, the petitioners alleged.

Mawrey was asked to consider if the election was fraudulent and should be rerun. If Rahman was found to be responsible, he faced being banned from office.

The mayor denied the allegations, which he dismissed as cynical and politically motivated.

During the course of the hearing, the court heard evidence from a handwriting expert that hundreds of ballot papers carried marks suggesting they could have been filled out by the same person.

Muslim voters were told it would be “un-Islamic” not to support Rahman in last May’s ballot, it was alleged during the hearing.

Rahman was also accused of making false statements about the personal character of Biggs. The Bangladesh-born mayor was accused of “undue influence” by “means of spiritual influence” during the campaign and on polling day.

It was claimed that a Bengali newspaper, The Weekly Desh, published a letter signed by 101 Islamic leaders which was “intended to have undue influence on the Muslim population of the borough”, Hoar said. Their pronouncements had been used to cajole and control many within the local 65,000-strong Muslim community, it was claimed.

The court heard that one of the petitioners saw a voter crying outside a polling station after allegedly being told by a supporter of Rahman that it was “un-Islamic” not to vote for him, and that if you did not vote for him you were “not a good Muslim”.

Bribes were also used to win over voters, the court heard, with meals given out on election day. Hoar said that there was evidence of “interference with voters” – including in polling booths.

Rahman won the poll in the first round of the election, with 43%, and Biggs was second on 33%. In the runoff round he beat the Labour candidate by 52.7% to 47.7%.

The long-awaited verdict comes after the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, ordered a team of commissioners to ensure the council is properly run after a PwC report last year found it flouted spending rules.

Pickles took control of key functions of administration when he appointed three commissioners to oversee grant-giving, appointments, property deals and the administration of future elections in the borough.

Other functions such as education, social care provision, street cleaning, housing and homelessness services are unaffected by this move.

Rahman denied any wrongdoing in council spending, as well as the allegations surround last year’s mayoral election.

Where are they now?

Bob Pitt:  Livingstone and Galloway rail against ongoing ‘witch hunt’ of Lutfur Rahman.

and  The smear campaign against Lutfur Rahman is an insult to democracy.

Seumas Milne, “The Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets, the former Labour councillor Lutfur Rahman – often described as “extremist-linked” in the media – has been the target of a new media onslaught. No wrongdoing has been uncovered, including by the police.

And John Rees:

And how could we forget?

Oppose Islamophobic witch hunt against Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets. Socialist Worker.


Update:  Met considers criminal inquiry into Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

Rahman is told to vacate post immediately after election court judge finds him guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes. He was ordered to pay immediate costs of £250,000 from a bill expected to reach £1m.

Note this:

Azmal Hussain, a petitioner who said he would have lost his Brick Lane businesses if they had lost the case, dismissed claims that the judgment would be seen as racist.

“The people who have really suffered are ordinary people of all races who were supposed to accept corruption because it comes from someone claiming to be against racism. It is corruption, pure and simple, and it should be challenged,” he said.



We concentrate on the wider political implications of this, particularly for the left.

A very well-informed source – indispensable in fact – on Tower Hamlets and its politics is  Trial by Jeory.  Latest post:  Tower Hamlets election court: Judge Richard Mawrey QC’s full ruling


Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

33 Responses

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  1. This is going to be mega embarrassing for a lot of people and not just the loony left. Obviously people like Rees, German etc are irrelevant but when people like Seymour are given space by Al Gruaniad and their London correspondent Dave Hill has consistently screamed Islamophobia The Guardianistas have some explaining to do. I am willing to bet they will simply report the facts and ignore their role in the whole thing.

    Almost un-noticed in all this is a libel action won by a former council leader and Mayor candidate Helal Abbas Uddin against a Rahman financed newspaper. I’ll send the link.

    Dave Roberts

    April 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

  2. I think the victimology card is being played as we speak.

    However, what concerns me far more is the sheer stupidity of Rees and co in calling an electoral court hearing a witch hunt. Rahman was represented by Duncan Penny QC so there were no inequality of arms issues between petitioners and respondent.

    The evidence was put forward over many days and the trial was entirely fair, which begs the question, exactly what aspect of this case is so distasteful to Rees, German and Co.

    I suspect they (along with Rahman) are just sore losers who never take defeat based on evidence for an answer.

    Epistemic relativism gone mad I say. When will they learn to grow up.


    April 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm

  3. Doesn’t look good for Galloway after this and Woolas verdict. This was what got Woolas removed – Galloway has done worse >

    Only hope is if Labour/Shah decide not to take him to court (or win).

    Paul Canning

    April 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm

  4. perhaps the charges against Luftur Rahman are completely politically motivated. Perhaps Rees, Galloway et al know that there are MPs in the Con/Dem coalition and Labour that are far worse, but they never get stopped or investigated.

    these charges are racist. they are Islamophobic. Rahman has to compete with the machinery of the major parties. He did what he could, and was successful.

    Drop all politically motivated charges!
    Reinstate Luftur Rahman!


    April 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

  5. This is decent news, but it will be not much to celebrate until the crooked bastard is jailed.


    April 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm

  6. Ted Jeory has put up the full ruling text http://trialbyjeory.com/2015/04/23/tower-hamlets-election-court-judge-richard-mawrey-qcs-full-ruling/

    Rees, Seymour etc are already calling it a ‘coup’ (before reading the actual judgment but of course).

    Paul Canning

    April 23, 2015 at 4:25 pm

  7. Useful pars from the judge:

    Before dealing with the law relating to election petitions, it is necessary briefly to rebut the criticism made in certain quarters after the high profile case of Watkins v Woolas (referred to hereafter as ‘Woolas’) in which the election of Mr Philip Woolas as Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth in 2010 was set aside by an election court on the ground that Mr Woolas had committed an illegal practice contrary to s 106 of the 1983 Act (which will be discussed in detail later in this judgment).
    The criticism is usually voiced in terms of ‘unelected judges unseating democratically elected politicians’, the obvious implication being that this process is itself undemocratic.
    There are two answers to this criticism. First the resolution of disputed elections by the courts is not a power the judges have arrogated to themselves. It is a task laid upon them by Parliament, a task, what is more, that the judiciary originally resisted tooth and nail. As the history of election courts set out in
    Woolasin the Divisional Court shows when, in 1868, it was proposed that election disputes should be referred to the courts, the then Lord Chief Justice, Sir Alexander Cockburn Bt (ironically the country’s leading expert in electoral law), wrote a stern letter of protest to the Lord Chancellor and earned himself an
    unflattering cartoon in Punch for his pains. All to no avail. The reason is obvious: if, as Parliament believed, and has continued to believe, politicians cannot be trusted to resolve election disputes fairly, then who is left but the judiciary? Election courts have thus lasted from 1868 to the present.
    The second reason is that the criticism itself begs the question. If a candidate is elected in breach of the rules for elections laid down in the legislation, then he cannot be said to have been ‘democratically elected’. In elections, as in sport, those who win by cheating have not properly won and are disqualified. Nor is it of any avail for the candidate to say ‘I would have won anyway’ because cheating leads to disqualification whether it was necessary for the victory or not. In recent election cases,
    for example, it has been proved that candidates were elected by the use of hundreds (in Birmingham, thousands) of forged votes: would anyone seriously claim that those candidates had been ‘democratically elected’?”

    Paul Canning

    April 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  8. Counterfiire and John Rees don’t need no racist judge to tell ’em wot’s wot.

    “Tower Hamlets: the real electoral fraud is about to begin
    John Rees on the outrageous dismissal of Tower Hamlet’s first elected Muslim Mayor

    April 23, 2015 Written by John Rees”

    “If the establishment gets away with removing one of the few councils that came to power by fighting racism and austerity, that has an admirable anti-war record, then the whole left will have suffered a setback and every racist in the country will be rejoicing.

    We should not let that happen.”


    Andrew Coates

    April 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm

  9. I’d be very wary of calling it a coup for half of the reason that Paul Canning states above. But I have no doubt that critics of Rahman will do exactly that – as they have already in comments above.

    There is certainly some detail on the ruling available that is damaging to Rahman e.g. what the Judge decided upon payments to a Bengali TV station but I’d be interested in what he may have to say about matters that were disputed e.g. were people ‘harassed’ at polling stations or simply ‘lobbied’.

    But on the other half of that reason – and which will apply to anyone still pretending to any sort of Marxism – just because some judge says something doesn’t necessarily mean it is either true or wrong. If bourgeois democratic norms were breached, Rahman should be thrown out; if not, he shouldn’t – I don’t know which happened here and I doubt anyone else here does either.

    But I’d guess which way any judge will swing. That’s well illustrated by his ruling barring Rahman from standing again. It should be up to the voters of TH to decide whether they want a ‘corrupt’ Mayor or not. The voters of Fermanagh and South Tyrone got to decide whether they wanted Bobby Sands, IRA terrorist / freedom fighter (take your pick) as their MP. They did.

    Rahman should be permitted to stand again.

  10. The Rees article is stunning. And itself racist. Judge Rahman by a different standard. Muslim voters deserve corrupt representation etc.

    via @JackOfKent

    Great local article here http://www.wharf.co.uk/news/local-news/comment-verdict-against-lutfur-rahman-9102394


    “The epitome of this arrogance was Lutfur Rahman’s refusal to speak in council meetings. Almost unimaginable that a public official who sought public office and was publicly accountable hid behind his “human rights” to prevent him having to speak to the people he ruled, about the £1billion budget he commanded.

    Unconscionable in any right thinking democratic society – but par for the course here, where Mr Rahman made feudal self-interest the norm.

    A place where a publicly funded chauffeur shimmied to the shops to pick up his dry cleaning; where is office, like his person, was lavishly aggrandised from the public purse.”

    Doesn’t that sound just like Galloway?

    Paul Canning

    April 23, 2015 at 5:11 pm

  11. From SH reading the judgement in detail,

    “Witnesses whose command of English turned out in the witness box to be rudimentary nonetheless produced polished English prose in their witness statements containing words that appeared to baffle them in cross-examination. The occasional witness claimed to have typed out his witness statement himself, oblivious to the fact that its appearance was absolutely identical to that of other (allegedly unconnected) witnesses. The nadir came when one witness gave a graphic account of how he had attended a polling station to cast his vote and found it a haven of tranquillity, only to be confronted by Mr Hoar with absolutely incontrovertible evidence that the witness had, in fact, voted by post well before polling day and could not have voted in person on the day.”

    This is what Counterfire and Seymour are defending.

    Andrew Coates

    April 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm

  12. How stupid are these people.Identical witness statements, supposedly by people with bare command of the English language (in some cases), or even none at all…. surely any normal electoral fraudster trying to claim innocence (or their QC) would make sure this kind of thing was done a bit more professionally…

    I find 154 a bit strange: “By 1892, however, attitudes had hardened, both on the part of the clergy and on the part of judges trying election cases. Outside Ireland, few except historians of 19th
    century politics now remember Charles Stewart Parnell, the founder and leader of the Irish
    Parliamentary Party and the standard-bearer of Irish nationalism in the 1880s. Indeed he
    tends to be remembered more for his fall from grace following a sensational divorce
    suit brought by his mistress’s husband in 1890. At the time, however, Parnell’s advocacy of
    Home Rule and the agitation for land reform through the Land League
    were hugely controversial. Although the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland were in general supportive
    of Home Rule, they were appalled by the conduct of Parnell and none more so than Dr
    Nulty, the Bishop of Meath.”

    I remember little of one half of my A Level History course (this half being British history from about 1800 until 1968 (i.e. nothing on ‘the troubles’); the other half being on the French Revolution), but I certainly remember Charles Stewart Parnell, his marriage trouble and the Land League, and the R.C. church medelling. Don’t they teach nothing at school these days?


    April 23, 2015 at 6:55 pm

  13. Paragraph 179 is much more relevant though; especially regarding the wolf-cries of “racial discrimination” which will continue to come.

    “Whatever may be the position in the rest of London or in the country at large, in Tower Hamlets
    Muslims in general and Bangladeshis in particular are not in any real sense a ‘minority’: in both instances they are the largest community in comparison to other religious and ethnic groupings.

    Although, therefore, Mr Rahman and his associates constantly refer to the Bangladeshi community of Tower Hamlets as if it were a small beleaguered ethnic minority in a sea of hostile racial prejudice, the court must look at the reality of the religious and ethnic makeup of the Borough.”

    (on that, see paragraphs 176-178)


    April 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm

  14. Otherwise, 208-210 about the “hidden” or “coded” meanings of the terms “Eastenders” and “loony left” are, in my opinion, pretty obtuse. What I vaguely remember about Tower Hamlets politics (my only personal involvement was canvassing in Milwall post BNP Cllr. Derek Beackon’s election as a teenager) is that the LibDems often used the term “Eastenders” or “locals” to mean “whites”. “Housing for Eastenders” etc.

    The judge seems to imagine that this use of the term is ridiculous, because the soapopera EastEnders is not mainly “caucasian”. Hm, at the time, I think it probably was, apart from the black caribbean family with a sicklecell story line, and possibly someone running a shop, I don’t remember there being any Bangladeshis on E20’s Albert Square. How could there be, especially when the judge points out that most of Tower Hamlets’ Bangladeshis are very religious and many don’t speak English. Having people speaking foreign languages in a soap opera went very wrong in Eldorado. Julia Smith hadn’t made the same mistake in EastEnders beforehand. I digress: Are there any Bangladeshis in today’s Albert Square?

    Where the judge also suggests that it is bizarre that anyone (especially within the Labour Party) who uses the term “Loony left” means they oppose typical “Lambeth” (i.e. “loony left”)policies such as anti-racism and anti-homophobia; he is also clearly out of touch. Why else would a Labour councillor or politician use the phrase in an internal faction fight against his opponents, apart from to state “I’m Old, traditional Labour, I’m not for The Gays And the Pakis”, as a certain fraction did in my slightly further east London CLP at the time?

    At least my illusions of grandeur have been massaged by this section, as only a Professor at Oxford or their likes could be capable of such “logic”, says the judge.

    Judges may know their 19th century “obscure” Irish history, but they seem to know little about internal party politics of the mid-1990s, yet are allowed to pontificate about it in a judgement. I would forgive the judge if he was under 25, but I’m sure he isn’t.


    April 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

  15. ” I digress: Are there any Bangladeshis in today’s Albert Square?”

    (And if there are: do they make up 35% of the population, I mean, the cast. Of course not).


    April 23, 2015 at 7:22 pm

  16. “But I’d guess which way any judge will swing. That’s well illustrated by his ruling barring Rahman from standing again. It should be up to the voters of TH to decide whether they want a ‘corrupt’ Mayor or not. The voters of Fermanagh and South Tyrone got to decide whether they wanted Bobby Sands, IRA terrorist / freedom fighter (take your pick) as their MP. They did.

    Rahman should be permitted to stand again.”


    This is drivel. Bobby Sands wasn’t up on corruption charges tested to the criminal threshold of beyond reasonable doubt. Lutfur Rahman was.

    lets take your nonsense further.

    Corrupt Tory MP’s on the take, don’t worry let them carry on regardless just let them be voted out without any penalty whatsoever. This Judgment was absolutely necessary in order to highlight just how corrupt he was. How could he stand, he now has to pay £250,00.00 in costs he will be flat broke, leading to the question where would he get the cash from? Thus potentially leading to yet more allegations if the cash did arrive.

    He may further face criminal charges


    April 23, 2015 at 7:44 pm

  17. Given the many comparisons with heavily Roman Catholic and peasant Ireland of the 19th and early 20th century, I’m suspect Sean Matgamna will write something insightful which will get accused of being “racist” &c.

    Otherwise (and therefore): paragraph 686.

    prof. daggi (cantab)

    April 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm

  18. i bet Luftur Rahman would not have been investigated if he was a zionist or homosexual.


    April 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm

  19. Ian Donovan @donovanian999

    Israel style racist justice in UK. Muslim voters overruled in #Towerhamlets. Zionist MP alleged child rapist escapes trial.

    Ian Donovan has it about right.


    April 23, 2015 at 11:21 pm

  20. Ah. I see. It’s The Great Homosexual Conspiracy again. How many times?

    Janner is a wholly separate issue and those particular establishment failings shouldn’t be conflated with Lutfur Rahman or anything to do with him.


    April 23, 2015 at 11:53 pm

  21. there seems to be a coalition between zionists and lgbt activists against mainstream parliamentary Muslim parliamentary candidates standing for smaller parties. Galloway the first, now Luftur Rahman, etc

    the same hostility to all forms of religious affiliation. Rahman is not an ‘Islamicist’ at all. Most Bangladeshis are Muslim, and the Mosque is a base of support. So what? there is nothing at all radical here.

    the only good thing is that Respect probably have gained a base for the future in Tower Hamlets, as I’m sure the Bangladeshis and others know what Labour stands for.

    In fact, it’d be great if George Galloway would become a future Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Imagine that!


    April 24, 2015 at 2:27 am

  22. I can remember the time when people would commonly check for reds under the bed. Now it’s zionists and homosexuals – no wonder I sometimes have problems getting to sleep.

    BTW – better watch expressions like “mainstream parliamentary Muslim parliamentary candidate” in proximity to mention of the orange explodey* placcy Napoleon. That sort of talk is likely to draw legal threats.

    *due to the appearance of a banger about to escape it’s intestinal casing.

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    April 24, 2015 at 4:55 am

  23. Sections of the “left” that now denounce the judgement on the grounds that it comes from s bourgeois court (etc) have been only to happy to accept (indeed, celebrate) decision they happen to like (eg Galloway’s libel success against the Telegraph, the failure of the ET claim against UCU). As for all this stuff about the court having no right to remove a democratically elected representative: remember Phil Woolas? Anyone of the “left” complain about his removal?

    Jim Denham

    April 24, 2015 at 7:21 am

  24. Notice that none of the shrill denounciations of ‘Islamophobia’ have actually taken issue with any of the evidence or facts of the case. I don’t like communalist politics but I didn’t know which way this case was going and am surprised and pleased at the outcome. Why is it OK for muslims to lie in Court and cheat in elections? That is the racism of lower expectation.


    April 24, 2015 at 7:58 am

  25. Need we say any more about Lutfar’s support?

    Andrew Coatesliquide4

    April 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

  26. The evidence against Rahman is overwhelmingly damning. But I agree with (Prof) Daggi above that the judge comes across as a reactionary old codger. It doesn’t take a prof to know that right-wing Labour in the 1990s used coded racism. (I remember in my CLP in the late 1980s the Old Labour machine boss, an NUR official, when an Asian woman questioned his authority he said “Go back to where you came from”. He later said he meant the university, as she was a student…) The stuff on being “more anti-fascist than thou” is very dodgy, undermining the whole idea of anti-fascism. There are lots of things he says about the Bangladeshi “community” that is a little cringey. Which is not to say that Rahman is not guilty – the evidence is overwhelming.

    As for Rahman’s would-be white saviours in Counterfire saying that it’s all about keeping the upstart Muslims down, Jim’s mention of Woolas seems pretty pertinent: it’s not just non-whites whose political careers are terminated when they commit obvious crimes.

    Meanwhile, I see Ian Donovan is calling calling the judge a “Zionist” and a “neocon”. What do those words even mean now?


    April 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

  27. Has neil become mike?


    April 24, 2015 at 1:04 pm

  28. Did Jackson become neil who is now mike?

    John R

    April 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

  29. Given that John Rees was the chair of the press conference where the CAGE `people described the ‘Phantom Headchopper of Old Aleppo Town’ (Muhammed Emwazi) as ‘a beuatiful boy’ who brought them ‘posh baklava’. I ask yo, what else would you expect?

    Sue R

    April 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm

  30. The Ian Donovan tweet is unbelievably creepy, and reminds me of nothing so much as a pamphlet Colin Jordan circulated which was called “Jack Straw’s Jewish Justice”.

    Even to suggest that the establishment closed ranks in support of Janner or Brittan because they were Jewish is an obscenity; they closed ranks in their support because they were senior politicians, i.e. both were one of them. It wouldn’t have mattered whether or not they were Jewish. They would have had the same ruling-class machinery working to back them up whatever their background, and even to suggest that they would not have done is to let the entire ruling class off the hook.

    Which is what anti-Semites always do, of course.


    April 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm

  31. A labour candidate in stephney green ward who claims working as a medical practitioner in st George’s hospital is cheating the people in stephney green ward. Her family members from other wards have voted in stephney green and new evidence of her family members coming out from stephney green polling booth last year has come to our attention. There are more evidence of the candidate’s father having meetings with religious leaders and intimidating voters during polling day. Can these evidence brought to light now ? TH labour leader was sent all these evidence and didn’t want to investigate this matter and made the same candidate to stand as a councillor candidate in tower hamlets .


    May 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm

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