This is the text of a letter I have sent to the Electoral Commission today with reference to the remaining Tower Hamlets First Councillors.
Monday 27th April 2015
Dear Electoral Commissioner
As a resident of Tower Hamlets and registered voter I wish to make a formal complaint against all Tower Hamlets First Councillors elected in the May 2010 local councillor elections.
These Councillors are:
- Councillor Ohid Ahmed (Lansbury)
- Councillor Suluk Ahmed (Spitalfields & Banglatown)
- Councillor Mahbub Alam (St Dunstan’s)
- Councillor Shah Alam (Mile End)
- Councillor Shahed Ali (Whitechapel)
- Councillor Abdul Asad (Whitechapel)
- Councillor Gulam Kibria Choudhury (Poplar)
- Councillor Shafiqul Haque (Bethnal Green)
- Councillor Aminur Khan (Whitechapel)
- Councillor Rabina Khan (Shadwell)
- Councillor Abjol Miah (St Peter’s)
- Councillor Harun Miah (Shadwell)
- Councillor Md. Maium Miah (Canary Wharf)
- Councillor Mohammed Mufti Miah (Bromley North)
- Councillor Muhammad Ansar Mustaquim (St Peter’s)
- Councillor Oliur Rahman (Stepney Green)
- Councillor Gulam Robbani (Spitalfields & Banglatown)
One of the reasons for this complaint is contained in paragraph 635 of the judgement by Mr Mawrey QC delivered in the High Court on Thursday 23rd April 2014 regarding the challenge to the Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014.
This and the following paragraphs are quoted below:
635 From those decisions, particularly the decisions above on the issue of general corruption under s 164, it follows that the court will have to report that ‘corrupt practices have extensively prevailed at the election in the area of the authority for which the election was held.’ Given the nature of THF as a ‘party’ and the reality of its control by Mr Rahman, this means that the election of all THF Councillors must be taken to have been achieved with the benefit of the corrupt and illegal practices found by this judgment to have been committed.
636 This court has not been charged with deciding the validity of the election of any of those Councillors. It is far too late for anyone to petition to avoid their individual elections. So far as electoral law is concerned, therefore, each of those Councillors is fully entitled to retain his or her seat until the next election in 2018.
637 This is obviously unsatisfactory but the solution to the problem lies well outside the remit of this Election Court.
It seems that all the Tower Hamlets First Councillors mentioned above have been elected ‘with the benefit of corrupt and illegal practices’ but as the court was not charged with deciding the validity of the election of these Councillors they are – despite being guilty of being elected in a corrupt manner – still entitled to retain their seat until the next local councillor election in 2018.
As a consequence it seems that until 2018 they can just carry on as normal.
- They will act as Councillors
- They will make decisions that affect every borough resident as Councillors
- They will be paid as Councillors
- They will claim expenses as Councillors
- They will represent the borough as Councillors
How can this situation be allowed? It is as if their positions as public servants – fraudulently obtained – protects them from punishment.
Slipping through the cracks
The judgement of Justice Mawrey was damning.
But nothing is happening. So what recourse to justice do residents have?
Do these 17 people who have been falsely elected somehow manage to slip through the cracks in the system and just get off without any penalties?
At the end of this ‘elected’ term will they be required to reimburse the borough all the monies they have been paid as it will have all been gained through corrupt acts?
Or do another group of private citizens have to risk all to bring another private prosecution against the Tower Hamlets First 17?
It is realised that the current General Election imposes some restrictions on central Government but there is no excuse for inaction.
Voters are victims
The official statement on the Electoral Commission website regarding the outcome of the Tower Hamlets election petition states that:
“As this case makes clear, when fraud is attempted, or committed, it is candidates and their supporters who make those attempts or commit those offences – voters are the victims. We welcome that Mr Justice Mawrey made this clear in his statement. Campaigners of all parties need to act in line with the highest standards when communicating with voters.
We have been working closely with police forces and local Returning Officers across the country, including in Tower Hamlets, to ensure they have robust plans in place to minimise the risk of fraud at the elections in May.”
Fine words. But meaningless.
But yes the voters of Tower Hamlets are victims.
Residents are unlikely to believe any statements by the Electoral Commission about ‘any lessons that can be learned in the future’ if none have been learned in the past.
I and another 250,000 people in the East End of London await a response to this complaint.