London police, EC draw flak over Lutfur Rahman’s electoral fraud, corruption

Lutfur Rahman

According to a report published by The Telegraph on Friday, one of the four East Londoners responsible for bringing down Rahman, has accused the Metropolitan Police of corruption.

Andy Erlam, the main petitioner, suggested that the authorities had sought to protect the first elected Muslim mayor in Britain.

Others declined to take action against him for fear of accusations of racism, he said.

The High Court removed Rahman from office on Thursday after he was found guilty of corruption and illegal practices during the polls.

Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey, who sat as a judge in the special High Court hearing, declared ‘void’ the results of his re-election as mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London in May last year.

The court said Rahman played the ‘race’ and ‘religious’ cards to gain ground against Labour Party rival John Biggs.

It also slapped a £250,000-fine on Lutfur and said he could not stand again in the council election.

After the court verdict, Erlam was quoted by the British daily as telling a local radio station: “Neither the Electoral Commission nor the police were very helpful.”

“In fact, at times it seemed that the Metropolitan Police has been protecting Mr Rahman over the years,” he said.

The Telegraph report said Erlam, an Oxford politics, philosophy and economics graduate and retired film-maker, stood as an independent in last May’s election but lost to Rahman.

Rahman was narrowly re-elected as an independent despite being expelled from the Labour Party for his links with an Islamic extremist group.

The Telegraph report said Erlam was stunned by the corruption he witnessed and called for the vote to be overturned.

Azmal Hussein, Angela Moffat and Debbie Simone joined him to demand cancellation of the vote results.

The Bangladesh-born politician was accused of telling local Muslims during his re-election campaign that it was a religious duty to vote for him.

The court pronounced the verdict on Thursday after a 10-week hearing following probe into the allegations.

It said Rahman had ‘cynically perverted’ the religious feeling of his Muslim community, before silencing his critics with ‘accusations of racism and Islamophobia’.

The judge appreciated the four petitioners for their courage to bring charges against Rahman.

Erlam told the radio station: “(The authorities) were partly afraid of being accused of racism and I also believe there are strong elements within the local police that are corrupt.”

“People have known for years what has beengoing on in Tower Hamlets but no one wanted to act.

“We knew weren’t fighting for any financial advantage. We have got nothing against Mr Rahman, It was not about Mr Rahman, it was about the process,” he added.

He demanded a fresh investigation into electoral fraud.

According to The Telegraph report, police did not pay any heed to the allegations brought against Rahman over his suspicious behaviour since he was elected mayor in 2008.

Later, the four lodged complaints against him.

Erlam was quoted by The Guardian as saying that police and the Electoral Commission had been ‘useless’ and had ‘done nothing’ to bring Rahman to justice.

“Electoral fraud cases were brought to the attention of the police before the petition started but they didn’t take it seriously,” he is reported to have said.

“They were far too close to the mayor. It is quite wrong that individuals should have to risk bankruptcy. If we’d have lost, the costs would have been about £1 million, we would have lost everything.”

Source: Bd news24


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