Independent councillor Shahed Ali was today sentenced to five months in prison by Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty to Housing Fraud.
The conviction means that Shahed Ali is no longer eligible to remain a councillor and that there will be a by-election in Whitechapel, most probably on December 1st.
For months Cllr Ali denied the charges against him then plead guilty at the last moment. Documents tabled in the court show that Cllr. Ali has cost Tower Hamlets council over £70,000 in legal fees. If he had pleaded guilty when he was first accused at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 9 December 2015 the cost to the Council would only have been £3,428.
“Corrupt and venal man will not be missed”
“Shahed Ali is the second [Lutfur] Rahman supporting Tower Hamlets councillor jailed for housing fraud,” said Cllr. Peter Golds, leader of Conservative Group, Tower Hamlets Council. “The property that he illegally secured whilst owning a former council flat where he allegedly lived, a former council flat that he rented out, a restaurant with flats at Frinton on Sea could and should have been made available to one of the 20,000 families on the council waiting list.
This man could have resigned from the council when his fraud became known, instead he continued to trouser over £10,000 in council allowances, whilst doing nothing for the people that he was elected to serve.
He is gone now but the stench of the Tower Hamlets First corruption still hangs over the town hall.
This corrupt and venal man will not be missed. “
Chose to commit fraud – then lied about it
“It’s disgraceful that instead of serving his constituents Shahed Ali chose not only to commit housing fraud but then to lie about it, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees, ” said Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs.
“It’s entirely right that he is kicked off the council and that there is a by-election to give voters the chance to give their verdict on his criminality. It’s a shame he did not have the integrity to come clean and resign before he’d cost taxpayers tens of thousands more in legal costs.
No apology from Tower Hamlets First
“What astounds me is that despite one of their colleagues being convicted of fraud, none of the Independent councillors have spoken out or apologised.”
Mr Ali, who had represented the Whitechapel ward of the borough, appeared in Snaresbrook Crown Court for sentencing in relation to one count of housing fraud under Section 3 of the Fraud Act 2006 (fraud by failing to disclose information).
Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, and Returning Officer said:
“Tower Hamlets is a densely populated London borough with almost 20,000 people on our housing waiting list. Mr Ali’s actions had a significant impact on others and meant that residents in urgent need of housing could not be accommodated.
“This was compounded by his role as an elected member, in a position of trust, and one where he represented many of the people affected by the housing challenges we face.
Shahed Ali – Timeline of Events
Our previous post regarding Cllr. Shahed Ali pleading guilty to housing fraud has been the most popular post on LW this year, and in recognition of this here is a detailed timeline of events leading up to his guilty plea kindly provided by Cllr. Peter Golds.
From the timeline it can be seen that it was 15 years between his committing the offence and finally being brought to justice with the Metropolitan Police Service yet again failing to do anything at all.
No surprises there then. It’s almost like the Met is making a habit of this sort of thing.
19 February 2001
Shahid Ali living at Datchet House applies for social housing citing overcrowding. On his application form he signs that he will notify the council if his circumstances change.
17 February 2002
He purchases a former council property in Pinnace House, E14 which he then rents. He does not change the statement on the application form that his circumstances have changed, which he was legally obliged to do.
Purchases British India Restaurant, 36-38 Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea. Cllr. Ali does not change the statement on the application form that his circumstances have changed, which he was legally obliged to do.
Now residing at 38 Welstead House, E1, he inherits the tenancy from his father. He continues to rent out Pinnace House and owns and runs the British India Restaurant. He does not change the statement on the application form that his circumstances have changed, which he was legally obliged to do.
Cllr. Ali bids for and is offered the tenancy of 17 Harkness House, 101 Christian Street, E1. He continues to rent out Pinnace House, owns and runs the British India Restaurant and is officially tenant of 38 Welstead House, E1.
He does not change the statement on the application form that his circumstances have changed, which he was legally obliged to do.
Electoral petition case
It was revealed in the Election Court that he was registered to vote at both 17 Harkness House and 38 Welstead House. Votes were cast in his name from both addresses. Prior to the petition hearing, his ballot papers were impounded and available to the police.
The police were unable to establish evidence of a corrupt practice and so concluded their investigation. [LW emphasis]
However the details were raised in the election court. The relevant paragraphs in the Mawrey Judgement are as below:
Para 328 At this point I should mention the mysterious case of Mr Shahed Ali. He was registered as being resident at two separate addresses, Flat 38 Welstead House, Cannon Street Road, E1 2LJ and 17 Harkness House, 101 Christian Street, E1 1RX. Both these addresses were in the same division of Whitechapel Ward (WH3) whose polling station was Henry Gosling Primary School. Mr Ali, though submitting a witness statement on behalf of Mr Rahman, was not called as a witness.
Para 329 Absent any explanation being tendered to the court, it would appear that Mr Ali had himself registered twice in the ward in which he was standing (indeed stood successfully) as a THF candidate. On the face it, both addresses cannot have met the residence test and the inescapable inference is that at least one of them is false.
Para 330 In dealing with the case of Mr Shahed Ali, the court is in no way embarrassed by the refusal of the parties to adduce his evidence or other evidence concerning his electoral behaviour. During the course of the Scrutiny, representatives of the Metropolitan Police removed the two ballots cast from these addresses in the Mayoral election and, it is understood may have obtained by another route the ballots cast in the ward and European elections. Mr Ali was arrested but it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with an electoral fraud. [LW emphasis]
It should be noted that Shahed Ali has been elected three times to Tower Hamlets Council for Whitechapel ward. Each time he gave as his qualifying address, 38 Welstead House, E1.
In 2006 he was elected as a Respect councillor.
In 2008 he defected to Labour and for the year 2009/10 was rewarded with a paid Cabinet post by Lutfur Rahman.
In 2010 he was elected as a Labour councillor.
The post 2010 administration saw him return to the back benches. Following the election of Lutfur Rahman as Mayor in 2010 he defected from Labour and was awarded with a paid Cabinet post until Rahman was disqualified in 2015.
In 2014 he was elected as a Tower Hamlets First councillor, becoming and Independent when the Electoral Commission dissolved Tower Hamlets First.
For a decade he served as a councillor bound by the Nolan principles.
For half of that time he was a senior member of the Tower Hamlets council administration taking part in and voting on decisions relating to housing allocations and probity.
December 2015 – Finally, action
In December 2015 he was summoned by Tower Hamlets council to appear at Thames Magistrates Court. He was represented by Hodge, Allen, Jones (Solicitors). Initially he tried not to enter a plea. He was advised to take advice and returned with a plea of “not guilty.” The Judge having established that he was an elected public official referred the case to Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Some advice for the other corruptly elected Tower Hamlets First councillors who are still enjoying the perks and privileges of being a Councillor.
Your time will come. And a lot sooner than you think.