High Court writ claiming election fraud names Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman
PUBLISHED: 15:44 18 June 2014
A High Court writ claiming electoral fraud in London's East End has named Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Four voters have filed a petition seeking to get the May 22 election that narrowly re-elected him for a second term overturned and declared void.
The petition accuses his 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.
The writ also names the Town Hall’s returning officer John Williams, claiming that he permitted party agents to enter polling stations unlawfully and leave campaign materials in polling booths.
The mayor’s election agent, Cllr Alibor Choudhury, refuted the allegations and claimed democracy was “thriving in Tower Hamlets”.
Cllr Alibor added: “This petition does not raise any new issues or evidence—it’s a waste of time and money.
“The Returning Officer and the police pursue all allegations and complaints reported to them.”
Mr Williams has confirmed that he was served notice of the High Court writ and is taking legal advice, but would not comment on specific allegations as he would “responding as necessary to the court”.
He revealed: “I have worked with the police and Electoral Commission to combat fraud and investigate thoroughly any allegations that were made.
“There were 84 allegations of unlawful or corrupt practice passed to the police, who have confirmed no evidence in most cases, but are currently investigating eight.”
The writ further claims false accusations of racism were made by Rahman’s campaign against Labour’s candidate John Biggs and that people were employed to engage in corrupt activity around and inside polling stations.
Labour has called for steps to make sure next month’s Blackwall & Cubitt Town by-election, caused by the death of a candidate the day before the May 22 polls, is not “marred by similar allegations of fraud, intimidation and misconduct”.
The party’s election agent, Chris Weavers, said: “It comes as no surprise that some residents have brought an election petition. Many were alarmed and disappointed by what happened.”
Conservatives were also furious at the way both the elections for mayor and council were run.
Tory Opposition leader Peter Golds told LBC today: “I saw activists at the count holding pens or pencils standing next to the tables where the voting slips were piled up waiting to be counted.”
No date has been set for the High Court hearing.