Political leaders react to Rahman ‘guilty’ verdict on corrupt Tower Hamlets election
PUBLISHED: 13:35 23 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:54 23 April 2015
Policians are now preparing for a re-run of last May’s election for Tower Hamlets mayor which has been declared “void” by the High Court today.
Lutfur Rahman is now barred after being found guilty of corrupt mal-practice at the polls which got him re-elected for a second term last May.
Labour’s candidate who lost to Rahman’s “corrupt practices” has called for reconcilliation to repair the damage done in Tower Hamlets.
London Assembly’s John Biggs said after the trial: “Today’s ruling is a victory for honest politics.
“Rahman and his allies robbed the people of Tower Hamlets of the free and fair mayoral election they deserved and betrayed everyone in our community who trusted and voted for him, by setting out to break the rules and going to extraordinary lengths to win.”
Mr Biggs, the Assembly’s budget chairman and a former leader of Tower Hamlets council himself, now represents east London at City Hall.
“People from across our community have been badly let down by the mayor,” he added.
“After five years of abuse of public funds and public trust, it’s time that residents have a council that is on their side, that restores faith in free and fair elections and heals divisions in our community.
“The election will now be re-run, an opportunity for all the people of the East End to vote to reject once and for all the kind of corrupt politics that the petitioners, this Election Court and the Commissioner’s judgment has exposed.”
He has promised to help restore trust and confidence in local democracy and “bring about reconciliation to heal the rancour and bitterness that has built up in the last five years”.
Mr Biggs insisted: “For too long the borough has been dragged down by the unseemly conduct of Rahman’s administration and has become a byword for all the wrong things.
“Enough is enough—it’s time to get democracy and accountability back and restore trust and confidence in our politics.”
Reaction also came today from the neighbouring London Borough of Newham, whose Labour executive Mayor Sir Robin Wales is also directly elected.
Sir Robin said: “Today’s verdict proves what many in east London have known for many years about the corrupt practices of Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First party.
“The people of Tower Hamlets deserve much better, including politicians who will work in the interests of all residents rather than some.
“John Biggs ran a principled and honest campaign as Labour’s candidate last year, beaten only by a corrupt candidate and illegal practices.”
The “guilty” election trial verdict also brought condemnation and relief at City Hall.
London Tory Mayor Boris Johnson said: “I’m very glad that justice has taken its course and that a cloud has been lifted from Tower Hamlets.
“It is vital now that we move on with new elections, and ensure that something like this can never happen again.”
BBC London’s drive-time programme at 5pm is coming live from Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix arts centre with reaction from Tower Hamlets politicials and election pundits.
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