Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Criminal investigation into Lutfur Rahman and associates progresses

The first interim report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of its inspection of the Met’s review and reassessment of alleged criminal offences under the Lutfur Rahman administration does not make good reading.

While some progress has been made with Operation Lynemouth the election court files have yet to be obtained by the Met and only 20% of the case files previously gathered by the Met’s Special Enquiry Team (SET) are of any use.

As a consequence of relentless pressure by both politicians and ordinary residents in March the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) asked HMIC to inspect the Met’s investigation of alleged criminal offences arising from the 2014 Mayoral election in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In other words an inspection into an investigation of a criminal enquiry that never happened. (Remember, this is Tower Hamlets.)

The first report is published just after Operation Lynemouth is back to full strength after several of its detectives were temporarily assigned to other major investigations.

Commander Cundy MPS

This staffing problem is symptomatic of the drastic cuts to front-line policing, the Met being 15% short of the number of detectives it requires coupled with a 68% increase in London homicides in April and May this year.

In overall charge of Operation Lynemouth is Commander Stuart Cundy who is also responsible for the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire.

Many people will recognise his face as being that of the only person in authority who did his job and appeared in public day after day telling people how things were in the days following Grenfell.

You can download the first interim report into Operation Lynemouth here (PDF)

Operation Lynemouth staffing

The Met team now being back up to strength it comprises of:

  • One superintendent (Senior Investigating Officer)
  • Two inspectors
  • Two sergeants
  • 11 constables
  • One HOLMES* indexer/typist (police staff)
  • One analyst (police staff)

*HOLMES is the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System computer used by UK police forces to collate and analyse all information during a major enquiry.

Four strands

The investigation is of a scale and scope that it has been divided into four strands of investigation:

  1. Review of the 27 files from the election court which never seemed to be the subject of much attention by the Met
  2. Review of evidence in relation to electoral fraud
  3. Reassessment and review of other criminal allegations relating to Lutfur Rahman or the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  4. Review by City of London Police Fraud Squad of the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation into Communities, Localities and Culture (CLC) Youth Project grant funding

The third strand’s focus on ‘other criminal allegations’ relating to the former Mayor and the borough is the major detail that should keep more than a few of the Mayor’s chums awake at night. If they had any sense. Which they don’t.

Problems and delays

Strand 1 – the 27 election court files

The HMIC report states that at the time of publication – June 2017 – “The investigation team has not yet started work on this strand, as it does not have legal authority to access the court files.” It seems that although a legal application had been made this had not resulted in a court order. So the 27 election court files remain where they have been since Rahman was found guilty of corruption.

Strand 2 – electoral fraud

Work is underway on this. Unfortunately the Met’s Special Enquiry Team (SET) which was responsible for early inquiries presented the new team with 30 boxes of documents containing information but only six of these boxes actually contained anything useful.

Additionally the SET did not record their reasons for its decision during its original investigation. So investigations carried out into allegations that were not pursued were marked ‘no further action’ by the SET without any reason being recorded as to why no further action would be taken.

Strand 3 – other criminal allegations

Work has not started on this.

Strand 4 – Youth Project Grant funding

This work by City of London police relates to the investigation into allegations of something rather odd happening with a £400,000 grant by Tower Hamlets Council to undisclosed organisations which concluded that no criminal offences had been committed.

Lutfur Rahman’s administration was found to systematically award Council grants to organisations on the basis of patronage, not need.

LW Comment

Despite our best attempts at impartiality we will only be satisfied when cell doors bang shut behind numerous people at some point in the future.

The residents of Tower Hamlets feel the same way (we know because we ask them).

The demand for justice in this case is shared across all communities of all political beliefs (except the Tower Hamlets First / Tower Hamlets Independent Whatever Group clowns, natch as they were all corruptly elected. Have we mentioned this before? )

For the moment we should let the Met get on with their work and assist them in any way we can. However residents are hungry for justice so no further delays would be good.

One looming problem that cannot be considered by the Met is the awkward possibility that their enquiry may result in them having suspects at or around the time that the Borough is descending into the lunacy that will be the 2018 local and Mayoral elections.

Cllr. Peter Golds

Another issue that does bother LW is that despite claims to the contrary some key individuals, such as the redoubtable Cllr. Peter Golds, have still not been asked by the Operation Lynemouth team for his evidence.

And Peter Golds has a whole cupboard full of it. A recurring theme before the instigation by the GLA of the current investigation was that Cllr. Golds had repeatedly been ignored despite numerous attempts to provide the Met with just what they need.

Evidence.

Oddly enough no-one has contacted the Wapping Mole as yet for his evidence either. Apparently Moley knows all sorts of things.

Has anyone been asked for their evidence? If you have please let us know.

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