Trial of Lutfur Rahman’s re-election as Tower Hamlets mayor opens in High Court

Embattled... Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Embattled... Mayor Lutfur Rahman - Credit: Archant

A trial challenging Lutfur Rahman’s re-election as Mayor of Tower Hamlets is beginning this-morning in the High Court.

Election petition... challenging control of Tower Hamlets

Election petition... challenging control of Tower Hamlets - Credit: Archant

The election hearing is expected to last four months, following a petition by campaigners protesting at the way the campaign was carried out that gave Mayor Rahman victory at the polls.

The petition was lodged under the 1983 Representation of the People Act following allegations of “malpractice” and “intimidation at voting stations”.

Four voters filed the petition seeking to get the May 22 election overturned and declared void.

The petition accuses Mayor Rahman’s followers of “casting votes in the name of people not entitled to vote and acquiring voting papers and casting them fraudulently”.

It was lodged by Andy Erlam, who stood in the separate council election the same day on an anti-corruption ticket, and three other activists, Debbie Simone, Azmal Hussein and Angela Moffat.

The writ also names the Town Hall’s returning officer John Williams, claiming he “permitted party agents to enter polling stations unlawfully and leave campaign materials in polling booths”.

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Election Commissioner QC Richard Mawrey issued an order in December for the Petition trial to be started today at 10am in Court 38 of the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, and not in Tower Hamlets itself. The High Court ruled that it should be held “in neutral grounds”.