As we seem to have fallen down the rabbit hole and are back in Tower Hamlets Corruption Land again it may help to have a quick review of the recent history. Those of you with a nervous disposition or weak stomach should look away now.
To avoid the necessity of writing a book we shall restrict our review to the last year or so. Going back to the referendum for a directly-elected Mayor and the first time Lutfur Rahman was elected in 2010 would unearth all sorts of interesting things. Which we can do later.
(The Electoral Commission is not mentioned as they have done nothing.)
24 May 2014 Rahman elected for second term as Mayor
Lutfur Rahman elected for a second term as Mayor of Tower Hamlets, his Tower Hamlets First party winning a majority after a chaotic count lasting six days. Allegations of vote rigging, intimidation and electoral malfeasance abound.
1 April 2014 Panorama documentary broadcast
Panorama documentary ‘The Mayor and Our Money’ is broadcast on BBC1. Rest of UK wonders what the hell is going on in Tower Hamlets?
4 April 2014 DCLG raid town hall
DCLG officials and auditors PwC begin an audit of Tower Hamlets council after an early morning unannounced visit.
19 October 2014 Proof of grants corruption emerges
Grants data finally confirms that the Tower Hamlets First administration had systematically awarded grants to those borough wards which favoured them in an election.
30 September 2014 Rahman name checked by Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May name checks Lutfur Rahman in a Conservative party conference speech outlining plans to counter extremism.
2 February 2015 Electoral petition starts
An Electoral Petition brought by four borough residents challenging the result of the 2014 Mayoral election starts at the Royal Courts of Justice in Strand.
23 April 2015 Rahman and Choudhury found guilty of corruption
In a damning judgement Lutfur Rahman and Alibor Choudhury are banned from office for five years it was found “that corrupt practices extensively prevailed at the election both of the Mayor and of the Councillors for the twenty wards of Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014.”
The only reason the other Tower Hamlets First councillors escaped being barred from office is because it was too costly to name them individually in the petition. And so these corruptly elected councillors have been representing their borough and banking their allowances ever since.
Costs of around £500,000 are awarded against Rahman.
As a result of the verdict another Mayoral election was called and to no ones surprise Tower Hamlets First got up to their usual tricks – even being caught on film on occasion.
29 April 2015 DCLG puts council under direct control
Minister for Community and Local Government Eric Pickles becomes so concerned with the activities of Rahman’s administration that he places Tower Hamlets under the direct control of his department.
15 May 2015 Candidates for re-run of 2014 election announced
Rahman’s close personal friend and political protege Cllr. Rabina Khan stands as ‘Independent’ candidate against Labour’s John Biggs.
11 June 2015 Labour’s John Biggs wins election
The Mayor’s protege is beaten in the Mayoral election rerun by Labour’s John Biggs.
9 August 2015 Data theft from Tower Hamlets Homes revealed
LW reveals how Tower Hamlets First had managed to get hold of Tower Hamlets Homes residents mobile phone numbers for the purposes of electioneering. Documents came into the possession of Love Wapping that seemed to be computer printouts of Tower Hamlets Homes residents personal information – including mobile numbers.
This alleged data breach is so serious – Tower Hamlets Homes manages 22,000 properties – that the borough’s Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) reported itself to the Information Commissioners Office.
19 October 2015 Drive to root out extremist infiltration announced
Theresa May announces a drive to expose entryist infiltration of the public sector, charities and businesses by Islamist and other extremists as part of the government’s new counter-extremist strategy.
No prizes for guessing which borough would be at the top of the list for being investigated.
18 November 2015 Lutfur Rahman declares himself bankrupt
Rahman declares himself bankrupt shortly after being hit with his £500,000 costs bill. Odd that.
29 January 2016 Rahman ‘a mortgage fraudster and tax evader’
Rahman was deemed to be “a mortgage fraudster and tax evader” at the conclusion of a court hearing that he hoped would overturn his ban from office.
5 February 2016 Initial meeting of Rahman’s creditors
At the initial meeting of Rahman’s creditors the Electoral Petitioners objected to over 53 creditors of Rahman on the grounds that their claimed loans may not have been loans and because of queries about the source of funds.
This relates directly to the itemised list of individuals and companies who loaned Rahman money for his defence fund.
It now seems that all these loans are to be scrutinised. Oops.
16 March 2016 Metropolitan Police say no one to be arrested over corruption
After a little encouragement the Metropolitan Police finally publishes a statement ‘Assessment completed re allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets’ which in part states that:
“After full consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service a decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence that criminal offences had been committed.”
Both residents and politicians are baffled by this response. Some consider the Met corrupt, some incompetent.