Lutfur Rahman’s bid for new Tower Hamlets party rejected by Election Commission

Lutfur Rahman banned from office

Lutfur Rahman banned from office - Credit: Archant

Attempts by banned mayor Lutfur Rahman to get back into Tower Hamlets politics has hit the buffers with the Election Commission rejecting his bid to register a new political party.

His application was thrown out under the 2000 Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act because his proposed party name, ‘Tower Hamlets Together’, is the same as the community organisation linking local health and social care groups in London’s East End.

“If the name appeared on a ballot paper, it would likely result in an elector being misled,” the Commission states. “An elector is likely to think they are voting for a partnership of local health and social care organisations.”

Rahman—banned by the High court till 2020 for election corruption and malpractice—was disqualified in 2015 along with his party, ‘Tower Hamlets First’, which had 19 councillors, all but two still serving as independents.

One former party member still on the council is accountant Ohid Ahmed, who Rahman nominated at a rally last month as his candidate for Mayor next year—before registering the new party.

But Cllr Ahmed, now in the Independent Group, today vehemently denied Rahman was behind his nomination when the East London Advertiser contacted him.

“He’s nothing to do with my nomination or with our group,” he insisted. “The rumours are by people worried that I might win.”

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But he added: “What happened the Lutfur was a conspiracy. I don’t support injustice.”

He was one of the organisers of Rhaman’s triumphal walk through Whitechapel with ex-London mayor Ken Livingston in the run-up to the 2010 mayor election.

But there is still a score to settle over the continued presence of the 17 councillors. Labour Mayor John Biggs told a London Assembly hearing earlier this month that there were “matters to be settled”.

Now the re-register of the old party was an “attempt to get back into Town Hall politics through the back door”.

He told the Advertiser: “A court ruled these councillors were corruptly elected and disbanded their party.

“This cynical attempt to re-register the disgraced, discredited and disqualified ‘Tower Hamlets First’ is an attempt to reinvent his ‘brand’ through the back door.

“People want the ‘Rahman years’ behinds them—they need to stand up and be counted.”

Tory Opposition group leader Peter Golds drew the Commission’s attention to Rahman using the health organisation’s name for his new party.

He said: “There’s nothing we can do to force out the 17 remaining councillors elected with Rahman—but it leaves a bad taste that these people still claim allowances from the public purse.”

The 17 get almost £11,000 a year each, while one of their group leaders picks up more than £22,000 and another receives almost £19,000.

The man whose High Court election petition brought a Rahman’s administration down, Andy Erlam, called on the 17 councillors to resign and “face the full force of democracy”.