Sunday, June 26

Ex-Tower Hamlets mayor to challenge charges of corrupt and illegal practices

Supporters of Lutfur Rahman, kicked out of office in London borough, reject claims of wrongdoing and blame bias and inaccuracies in court judgment

Britain’s first directly elected Muslim mayor, forced to step down after a judge found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices. is to challenge the decision through the courts.

In a statement on his website today, Lutfur Rahman said that the election court ruling which kicked him out of office as Tower Hamlets mayor was marred by bias, slurs and inaccuracies.

Any legal challenge by Rahman will not stop a rerun of the borough’s election, due to be held on 11 June. He will be banned from taking part, but his party, Tower Hamlets First, is expected to put up a candidate.

The statement reads: “Lutfur Rahman will be appealing the judgment made against him at last Thursday’s election court.

“He continues to reject all claims of wrongdoing and we hold that the integrity of the court system was marred by the bias, slurs and factual inaccuracies in the election judgment.”

Four Tower Hamlets petitioners launched the bid in the election court to force Rahman from office.

Richard Mawrey QC ruled on Thursday that Rahman would be barred from running for office for five years and said the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election would have to be rerun.

Rahman and his supporters were found to have used religious intimidation through local imams, vote-rigging and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist to gain power.

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.

Mawrey predicted that Rahman would characterise his judgment as “yet another example of the racism and Islamophobia that have hounded him throughout his political life”.

The statement on Rahman’s website continued by claiming that it was wrong for the judgment to characterise The Tower Hamlets First party, which was led by Rahman, as a “one-man band”.

“We support Lutfur Rahman as a party because he has led in delivering record numbers of social and affordable homes, investing in our young people with maintenance allowances and university grants and standing up to Tory and Labour austerity,” the statement said.

Rahman’s supporters have also criticised the court ruling as an “anti-democratic coup” and described the respected judge in the case as “self-evidently partisan” in an online petition.

Rahman’s website is encouraging readers to sign the 38 Degrees petition, which has so far attracted more than 5,800 backers.

The authors of the page – Charlotte Gerada, Gary Reddin, Jusna Begum and Sean Rillo Raczka – state: “This isn’t justice, it’s a stitch-up fuelled by prejudice … We didn’t have our ballots stolen and we weren’t bribed or bullied.”

A rally in support of Rahman will be held in the borough on Thursday.

A spokesman for Rahman confirmed that the website is still being used to release statements on his behalf.

Source: Social Media