‘My future is in your hands’, Tower Hamlets Mayor tells judge after ‘lying’ claims
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has told a judge his “whole future” is in their hands after being accused of lying in a dramatic High Court hearing.
Lutfur Rahman’s outburst, made as he was giving evidence on Tuesday for a legal bid by four residents to overturn his re-election last May, came as the residents’ lawyer tore into the borough’s most powerful politician.
“You have done nothing but lie,” said barrister Francis Hoar. “You wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the face.”
But the Mayor told Judge Mawrey: “That’s absolutely untrue. My whole future is in the hands of your lordship. I would not throw away my future.”
Earlier Mr Hoar accused the Mayor of telling a “number of lies” over the years, including while giving evidence to the court.
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“I am not lying,” Mayor Rahman told the judge. “Not in any circumstances. I have no reason to lie.”
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The Mayor was also questioned about his use of the council’s taxpayer-funded newspaper, which Mr Hoar said was part of a “propaganda machine”, with 97 pc of its quotes coming from the Mayor and his team.
Mayor Rahman said East End Life was a “fantastic newspaper”, adding “it is not a propaganda machine for me”, and noting that “opposition members are placed in the paper”.
On Monday the Mayor accused the Labour Party of “institutional racism”.
“I believe I ruffled feathers in the party hierarchy,” he told the court. “The Labour Party is not racist in the overt sense but I believe it, like many other organisations, still bears some of the hallmarks of institutional racism.
“My colleagues would talk casually of the ‘Bangladeshi vote’ as if it was a homogeneous bloc that would be delivered en masse.”
He added: “I was from a new generation of ethnic minority candidates in the Labour Party and I was not interested in the ceremonial role. My areas of interest were policy-making, scrutiny and challenge.
“Accordingly, I always felt a degree of ambivalence from some colleagues in the party hierarchy.”
Mayor Rahman was de-selected as Labour candidate for mayor in 2010 but won anyway as an independent.
The four residents accuse the mayor of “election fraud” though he denies all wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, on Monday, a man gave evidence in private that his postal vote had been stolen from his flat in a burglary three days before polling day for the elections.
Judge Mawry said the man claimed “numerous people” knocked on his door asking him to vote for the Mayor’s party.
The man, a Labour supporter, claims he had been told he would be killed if he gave evidence.
The hearing continues.