Former mayor of Tower Hamlets legally challenges electoral corruption ruling

Former mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman

The ex-mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman will be legally challenging a court ruling that banned him from standing for elections.

Mr Rahman was removed from office, prohibited from running for elections for five years and ordered to pay £250,000 costs in April 2015 after the election court found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices when he was elected for his second term as mayor of Tower Hamlets in 2014.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service and police decided there was not enough evidence for a criminal prosecution.

On Wednesday, Mr Rahman launched an application for a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice, calling for either a criminal prosecution to be launched or the electoral court ruling to be overturned, which would allow him to face trial in front of a jury.

The judicial review application names the four residents from Tower Hamlets who brought the case forward, as well as the Metropolitan commissioner, the director of public prosecutions and the election court.

Mr Rahman states that the election court’s ruling does not comply with article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights by infringing on the presumption of innocence that people are entitled to until found guilty in a criminal court.

The criminal court and election court have the same standard of proof – allegations must be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Mr Rahman’s barrister, Paul Bowen QC, said the election court was “essentially a quasi criminal procedure” and the “ingredients” for a criminal prosecution relating to electoral fraud were identical to those used by the election court, and that the way in which the 2015 judgment was framed heavily implied he has been found guilty of a crime.

Mr Bowen said: “The fact that the election court has found you guilty doesn’t have to mean you’re found guilty in the criminal court.”

The application continues today.

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