On Saturday 17th February ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman and his proxy candidate for the 2018 Tower Hamlets mayoral election Cllr. Ohid Ahmed hosted a lunch for 500 women and 100 men at The Atrium venue in Cheshire Street.
There was no charge for entry to the ‘Women’s Gathering’ event.
Attendees were not asked for tickets on the door.
LW has previously revealed text messages stating that the advertised ticket price of £25 for the event was just for publicity purposes with the intent of getting round the Electoral Commission rules on election candidates being banned from ‘treating’ – providing any food, drink or entertainment to corruptly influence any voter.
There was no fundraising at the event. Guests had pledge forms but no special part of the programme was dedicated to fundraising.
A day or two in advance of the event Lutfur Rahman’s team delivered tickets to the people they wanted to invite. The attendees were not asked for any money to attend the event at any time despite the tickets being marked ‘£10 fundraising event’.
All about Lutfur
First person accounts of the event indicate that it was all about Lutfur Rahman with Cllr. Ohid Ahmed only playing a supporting role.
Lutfur Rahman was the main speaker at the gathering and mentioned the fact that Ohid is the best candidate. ..because Lutfur supports him.
Not a great speaker
Ohid Ahmed started his speech by saying that he was not a great speaker but Lutfur had said everything he wanted to say.
During the few minutes of his speech Ohid talked about why he is the best person – mainly this was because he had sacrificed so much for Rahman
A video documentary about Lutfur’s success and achievements was shown but this contained no reference to Ohid Ahmed.
Bodyguard or candidate?
Some of the women present were heard to remark that Cllr. Ohid seemed to be more like a bodyguard for Rahman than the candidate.
Rania Khan, former Tower Hamlets First councillor and Cabinet Member for Culture in Rahman’s administration also spoke, telling the audience how Ohid Ahmed was the councillor who had sacrificed the most for Rahman.
In her speech Rania Khan said “Amar bai tumar bai Ohid bai Ohid bai’ which translates as ‘My brother, your brother, Ohid brother Ohid brother….
By all accounts the lavish free lunch provided was up to the usual very high standards of hospitality that supporters of Lutfur Rahman have come to expect.
Unusually for an event of this type filming was expressly banned by the organisers.
Note to new readers: Lutfur Rahman was dismissed from office in 2015 at the conclusion of an election petition and banned from standing for public office until 2020 as he had employed corrupt or illegal practices to get elected in 2014.
The Electoral Commission definition of treating is as follows.
“A person is guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting. Treating requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality.”
For a full list of electoral offences see this Electoral Commission document (PDF)
To date LW has still not had a reply from Cllr. Ohid Ahmed when we asked if he is standing as a proxy candidate for ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman in the 2018 mayoral elections in Tower Hamlets?
The embarrassing (but necessary) begging bit
Unlike some the Wapping Mole cannot afford to provide free lunches to anyone.
Moley, poor little bewhiskered chap, is completely reliant on donations from lovely people like yourself to continue to do his work.
Because let’s face it, nobody else is covering this stuff.
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