The Met Police have announced that a Detective Superintendent from Homicide and Major Crime Command will be ‘reviewing’ the Election Court ruling against former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
There are five new allegations that had not previously been reported to the police.
The Met says: ‘Four of those are now being assessed to see if a criminal investigation should be carried out.’
We have appointed a Det Superintendent to review the report published by the High Court following the election petition hearing (1 of 2)
— Tower Hamlets MPS (@MPSTowerHam) May 1, 2015
(2/2) Five new allegations, which had not been previously reported to police, have been identified within the election petition report.
— Tower Hamlets MPS (@MPSTowerHam) May 1, 2015
Last week Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC found that the former directly elected Mayor was responsible for corrupt and illegal practices and declared his election last year void.
Mr Rahman was barred from standing in the new poll to be held in June.
He was also reported to the Law Society as he is a qualified solicitor by profession.
The Election Court declared ‘He has not lawfully been Mayor’ since the invalid and void election last May.
The Met’s Special Enquiry team has been granted an extension of the time limit to bring criminal proceedings under the Representation of the People Act.
New Scotland Yard says ‘In the lead up to, during and after the election on 22 May 2014, the MPS received 164 complaints of electoral malpractice in Tower Hamlets.’
Today’s statement adds: ‘Our review of the High Court report has identified new material that we are now considering in connection with 47 of the allegations originally reported to us.’
This suggests that the Detective Superintendent’s review is going to be much wider than allegations not previously reported to them.
Any criminal investigation arising could extend way beyond the four allegations that can still be investigated .
In last week’s Election Court ruling at the High Court Mr Mawrey concluded:
On past form, it appears inevitable that Mr Rahman will denounce this judgment as yet another example of the racism and Islamophobia that have hounded him throughout his political life. It is nothing of the sort. Mr Rahman has made a successful career by ignoring or flouting the law (as this Petition demonstrates) and has relied on silencing his critics by accusations of racism and Islamophobia. But his critics have not been silenced and neither has this court.
Events of recent months in contexts very different from electoral malpractice have starkly demonstrated what happens when those in authority are afraid to confront wrongdoing for fear of allegations of racism and Islamophobia. Even in the multicultural society which is 21st century Britain, the law must be applied fairly and equally to everyone. Otherwise we are lost.
The Met Police says:
It is vital to ensure the integrity of the democratic process, so across London on 7 May, and in Tower Hamlets on 11 June, the MPS will have a policing operation in place, including additional officers on duty based at polling stations. This operation will include learning from the policing operation in Tower Hamlets on 22 May 2014.n
The Election Commissioner expressed sympathy for the police during his ruling:
Nor is this judgment inclined to blame the Metropolitan Police. Policing Tower Hamlets under its current political régime is not an easy task. Many in the Police feel that the imputation of ‘institutional racism’ made by the Macpherson Enquiry, albeit 16 years ago, still dogs the Force and they are conscious that, in Mr Rahman, whose personal control of the Borough is tight, they are dealing with a man whose hair-trigger reaction is to accuse anyone who disagrees with him of racism and/or Islamophobia. In the circumstances it would be unreasonable to expect of the police anything other than an approach of considerable caution.
Mr Mawrey QC said the present election petitioning system to deal with the Tower Hamlets situation was not fit for purpose, obsolete, and an unsatisfactory way to protect democracy.
Police forces can and do act when evidence is presented to them of electoral wrongdoing but they do not have the resources to be pro-active and they remain heavily dependent on information supplied by the political rivals of the alleged wrongdoers.
The Met Police said today: ‘We will now ensure that any learning from the High Court report is incorporated into any future police investigations.’
Meanwhile Lutfur Rahman’s political party Tower Hamlets First held a rally on Thursday at which they received support from former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, the trade union Unite, and Respect MP George Galloway.
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.
Mr Rahman’s supporters have launched a petition ‘Stop the anti-democratic coup in Tower Hamlets’ and a defence fund to help pay his legal costs.
He was ordered by the Election Court to pay £250,000.