This is a guest post by Andy Erlam, one of the four electoral petitioners who brought a private action that led to the removal of Lutfur Rahman and Alibor Choudhury from office. As such it does not necessarily reflect the views of LW.
While the Election Petitioners continue to try to obtain their £500,000 legal fees from Lutfur Rahman, (and he’s not paid a penny yet), the focus is now on the Metropolitan Police and the other institutions which have failed the people of Tower Hamlets.
The Met knows how to investigate a crime very efficiently and the Met knows how to cover-up crime. They can write a report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which makes it possible for a prosecution to take place. They can write another on the same case, using the same facts, which makes it impossible for the CPS to prosecute.
Not special, not enquiring
The police have a huge amount of power and a high degree of discretion. If properly used, that is not a problem. But if abused, it can have very serious consequences. It appears that the only thing special about the Special Enquiry Team is that it especially doesn’t want anyone important prosecuted.
It’s been used before on “sensitive” cases. In retrospect, it’s obvious that the police have been protecting Rahman, continued to protect him throughout the trial and are still protecting him.
The big questions are who and why? There are a lot of frustrated police officers in the Met who know that their own police force has been compromised in Tower Hamlets and in London generally. But what can they do if they have no support from the top or in the community?
The CPS does make many good and honest decisions but it has also been known to make unjust decisions.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil
If the Met investigators have found insufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, all I can imagine is that all the detectives were blindfolded throughout the investigation.
So once again, the authorities neglect what they should be doing and, once again, it’s left to ordinary voters to do their job for them. Angela Moffat and Cathy Holmes have watched the borough being corrupted for decades. Now these women have decided to take the battle forward.
It is important for local political leaders not to try to jump on the bandwagon, but instead back these two local (non-political partisan) women, paying due respect to their courage. Change always comes from the grassroots.
The Electoral Commission is a disgrace. The Commission had about 24 meetings with both the police and the council prior to the fated May 2014 mayoral election. We do not know what happened in those meetings because the Electoral Commission refuses to release the minutes on the grounds that to do so might “increase the risk of election fraud”.
You couldn’t make it up.
Eric Pickles has also made it known that his own officials tried to block him sending in the government Commissioners to run the council. Believe it or not, DCLG civil servants saw Tower Hamlets as a beacon authority implementing best practice.
What were they thinking of?
Had the police and the Electoral Commission done their jobs properly there would have been no need for an Electoral Petition. During the preparation of the petition case, the police could not have been more unhelpful and even harassed the petitioners – harassment that continues to this day. The Electoral Commission? It fudged. Its’ civil servants fear being blamed above anything else.
So what is the public to believe? The Lutfur Rahman case reveals at best incompetence and at worst possible corruption on a wide scale that goes well beyond Tower Hamlets. Many in authority have been turning a blind eye for years to what is happening in Tower Hamlets while residents continue to suffer.
We also know that there a lot of honest officials at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who know the detail of the wrongdoing at the council going back many years before Rahman, but fear for their jobs and indeed sometimes fear for their safety.
Now is the time to expose the full facts before the Establishment covers the whole thing up.
What do you know?
Information can be sent, (in absolute confidence or anonymously), to my secure postbox:
Andy Erlam, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX
One day it will all be different!