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Mayor accused at High Court of using ‘spiritual influence’ for re-election

PUBLISHED: 13:36 21 August 2014 | UPDATED: 13:36 21 August 2014

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Archant

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets exerted unlawful “spiritual influence” on voters to secure his re-election, according to allegations filed at the High Court by petitioners seeking to overturn the election result.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets exerted unlawful “spiritual influence” on voters to secure his re-election, according to allegations filed at the High Court by petitioners seeking to overturn the election result.

A dossier of claims filed on Monday accuses Lutfur Rahman’s campaign of breaking election law by telling residents it would be un-Islamic to vote for any rival candidate in the May 22 election.

The documents point to a letter signed by 101 religious leaders, including Imams and Madrassah teachers, published in the Bengali Weekly Desh newspaper in the week of the election, which appeared to instruct Muslims to vote for Lutfur Rahman.

The charges also cite remarks allegedly made by the Mayor’s campaign team telling electors rival candidates would close local mosques and saying voting for Rahman was a religious duty.

Mayor Rahman dismissed the charges as false and denies any wrongdoing.

The High Court bid was filed by four people, including campaigner Andy Erlam and Brick Lane restaurateur Azmal Hussein.

They are asking the court to declare the election corrupt and invalid.

They further accuse the Mayor’s team of postal vote fraud and of promising new houses in return for votes.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The allegations filed with the court don’t come as a surprise.

“They repeat allegations made before that have never been proven, despite thorough investigations by the Metropolitan Police and Electoral Commission. We look forward to vigorously contesting them in court.”

Meanwhile, the council is seeking a judicial review into a government-backed audit following allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement – which it denies.

Police are also investigating possible voting fraud after a man was stopped with his car boot stuffed with postal vote papers.

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