For some light relief from the drudgery of our recent very weary council and local election stories it gives LW great pleasure to publish something to bring a smile to the face of any law-abiding resident of Tower Hamlets.
Yes, it’s the transcript of Lutfur Rahman’s hearing before the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which caused the ex-mayor to also become an ex-solicitor!
Excuse our glee in revelling in the demise of Lutfur Rahman but when you have been called every name under the sun by his cronies some recompense is required. And we haven’t even got started yet!
You can download the original PDF document of the full transcript here but it is full of legal jargon (as you might expect) so we have taken the liberty of reproducing some edited highlights for your reading pleasure.
Make a cuppa, sit back and enjoy. Might even be worth a posh biscuit too? It’s that good. Headlines, emphasis and funny comments solely down to the Wapping Mole.
Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal transcript
In the matter of The Solicitors Act 1974 Case No. 11457-2015 between: Solicitors Regulation Authority (Applicant) and Lutfur Rahman (Respondent)
SRA recap of Election Court finding
61.7 The Election Court found as follows:
“What has been proved may be summarised as follows:
(a) the administration of grants was firmly in the personal hands of Mr Rahman, assisted by his two cronies, Councillors Asad and Choudhury;
(b) in administering the grant policy, Mr Rahman acted in total disregard of the Council’s officers, its members and, almost certainly the law;
(d) large grants were made to organisations who were totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility;
(e) grants were made to organisations that had not applied for them;
(f) the careful attempts of PwC to marry up grants to ascertainable levels of deprivation and need in the Borough had resulted in the conclusion that it was impossible to do so; grants were not based on need;
(g) the lion’s share of grants went to organisations that were run by and/for the Bangladeshi community;
(h) the main thrust of Mr Rahman’s political campaigning both as leader of the Council and late as Mayor was to target the Bangladeshi Community and to convince that community that loyalty to the community meant loyalty to him;
(i) even within the Bangladeshi Community grants were targeted at the wards where support for Mr Rahman and his candidates were strongest whilst wards where their chances of success were slim lost out”.
Election Court must apply the criminal standard of proof
61.15 The Election Court made clear that it was settled law that the Election Court must apply the criminal standard of proof, namely proof beyond reasonable doubt to the charges of corrupt or illegal practices. The Judgement explained that the general rule in election cases was that in respect of corrupt or illegal practices, a candidate was responsible for the actions of his agents, even if those actions are committed without his knowledge and consent, or, indeed, contrary to his express instructions.
The bulls**t residents were expected to believe
This is what Rahman submitted in his defence. Cheek!
61.32 The distribution of the grants was processed through the council and transmitted by the council for community needs. There was no evidence to suggest the grant distributions had anything to do with the personal election campaign of the Respondent. The grants were distributed to many worthy causes. Further, while it is accepted the Respondent was responsible for making some grant allocation decisions, this responsibility was shared, although the Respondent accepted that as executive mayor he had the last word. The Respondent himself had no part of the scrutiny process; this was Councillor Choudhary and Councillor Miah’s domain. The Respondent merely accepted the board’s decision. There was no reliable evidence to suggest the grant allocations undertaken by the Respondent was conduct amounting to corrupt practices.
Oh and the sky is green, the sea is neither deep or blue and Father Christmas really exists and lives in Shadwell…
A reminded that while Cllr. Choudhary has returned to his previous career Cllr. Maium Miah is still pursuing a political career and standing for re-election in May 2018. More on Cllr. Miah at a later date. But back to the SRA findings…
63.11 The Tribunal had to ask itself whether in light of the Respondent’s actual state of mind as to knowledge or belief as to facts was his conduct was honest or dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people. The Respondent had personally undertaken corrupt and illegal practices for his own advantage knowing that what he said was not true and that he was not following proper process. This was the complete opposite of the honest behaviours that ordinary decent people would expect. Given the Respondent held public office at the time ordinary decent people would, in the Tribunal’s view, have had even higher expectations of the Respondent. In light of the conclusions that the Tribunal had reached as to the Respondent’s state of mind and knowledge the Tribunal concluded that this conduct was dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.
- Dishonesty had been alleged and proved. The misconduct was deliberate, calculated and repeated. It had continued over a period of time.
- There were no mitigating factors. In contesting the allegations before the Tribunal the Respondent had neither demonstrated a shred of insight nor remorse into his actions. He had unnecessarily lengthened the regulatory proceedings. He had obfuscated and prevaricated. The fact that the misconduct had arisen in the context of the Respondent’s political career rather than his practice as a solicitor was irrelevant.
- A finding of dishonesty will almost invariably lead to striking off, save in exceptional circumstances. The Tribunal determined that the seriousness of the misconduct was at the highest level, such that a lesser sanction was inappropriate. The only sanction that could protect the public and the reputation of the profession was for the Respondent to be struck off.
- The Tribunal proceeded to consider whether the sum awarded should be reduced in light of the Respondent’ s means. The Tribunal noted that the Respondent had not produced any evidence in respect of his means. He was a discharged bankrupt but that was the only information the Tribunal had about his financial circumstances. […] In the absence of evidence that the Respondent was impecunious [aka skint], the appropriate order was that he pay the costs of and incidental to this application and enquiry fixed in the sum of £86,400.00.
Statement of Full Order
- The Tribunal Ordered that the Respondent, LUTFUR RAHMAN, solicitor, be STRUCK OFF the Roll of Solicitors and it further Ordered that be do pay the costs of and incidental to this application and enquiry fixed in the sum of £86,400.00.
Dated this 18th day of January 2018 On behalf of the Tribunal
An interesting postscript
Another baffling aspect of the Lutfur Rahman saga, the reason why Rahman was not subject to a full criminal investigation immediately after the Election Court judgement, is mentioned in the SRA finding as below:
61.16 Mr Levey referred the Tribunal to the decision of Lloyd Jones LJ and Supperstone J dated 21 June 2017. This recorded that the decision that there was insufficient evidence of a criminal offence was not one that had been made by the Director of Public Prosecutions. This was a decision that had been made by the Metropolitan Police Service itself. It had not considered twenty seven files of evidence that had been before the Election Court when making that decision. In March 2017 the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Service had agreed to undertake a further joint assessment of the files. There was no information as to the outcome.
Of course thanks to a huge amount of hard work by numerous politicians and borough residents there is now a criminal investigation into anything dodgy that Lutfur and his Tower Hamlets First cronies got up to during the time Rahman was mayor of Tower Hamlets.
And that means it is a BIG investigation!
So we are not going to run out of Tower Hamlets First corruption story any time this year. Or next year for that matter.