Police drop moves to prosecute in Tower Hamlets mayor election case for 'lack of evidence'
PUBLISHED: 14:51 16 March 2016 | UPDATED: 18:25 16 March 2016
The Police probe into allegations of Town Hall fraud and corruption at Tower Hamlets council under disgraced ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman has today declared "insufficient evidence that criminal offences had been committed".
It follows consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, the Met Police has confirmed.
The decision following a 12-month police assessment of evidence from the 200-page report by a judge in Rahman’s High Court election trial last April is bound to disappoint the four election petitioners led by anti-corruption campaigner Andy Erlam still fighting to bring Rahman supporters to trial 12 months after the High Court banning him from office.
The High Court Judge did not refer any matters from the Election hearing to the Met Police for investigation, Scotland Yard insists, but a full review was still carried out by specialist detectives.
That review identified five new allegations, one of which could not be pursued as the one-year time limit had expired before police were aware of the allegation, it is understood.
It also identified new material related to 47 allegations originally reported to police.
The Election hearing was a civil process through the High Court. The rules on admissible evidence and liability at that hearing were different to those applied for any criminal prosecution, Scotland Yard points out.
The Met Police received 164 complaints of Tower Hamlets election malpractice in the lead up to, during and after the now-overturned May 2014 election for mayor which returned Rahman for his second term.
Every allegation was recorded and investigated to see if criminal offences had been committed. Only two people were ever cautioned, while there is also one criminal trial outstanding.
Election Petitioner Erlham, a writer and documentary film-maker, has a history of battling the Met with what he claims has been “police dragging their feet” over the corruption investigations.
He went to the Commissioner himself with boxes of evidence from witnesses after complaining at “a previous lack of interest from police who didn’t investigate election fraud properly”.
Scotland Yard at the time revealed it was looking into allegations concerning the 2014 council election about malpractice by some candidates over postal votes.
Allegations were made against some councillors in his High Court election petition which overturned the 2014 vote for mayor which was re-run last June.