Met investigation into Lutfur Rahman fails to find any wrongdoing

The Met’s investigation into any possible criminal offences during the Lutfur Rahman administration, Operation Lynemouth, has drawn a blank with the exception of one unspecified “potentially serious criminal offence”.

“You what?”

No, seriously! Let’s hope that is not shoplifting from Tesco.

To be 100% clear. Lutfur Rahman will not be charged with anything. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nowt. Nothing.

The full text of the police statement can be read below.

Bottom line is that a £1.7 million investigation involving up to 20 detectives and police staff has not identified sufficient additional evidence or investigative opportunities to enable the Met to request the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider any charges.

The only positive news to come out of Operation Lynemouth is of some unspecified criminal offence that is not linked to the 2014 Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. So maybe there is still a sting in the tail of this story.

The Met states that the nature of this offence is such that the City of London Police have agreed to investigate it – which means that this is almost certainly a fraud case as the City of London is the national lead on this type of crime.

“It’s quite incredible they’ve not managed even one charge after all that time and money, what a waste!,” said one disbelieving Tower Hamlets resident on hearing the news. “Now they launch another one and will waste some more time and money… hardly surprising when they ignore or don’t follow up with people who try and give them evidence.”

Another resident was more blunt.

“I might as well stop working and earn money illegally and fraudulently. No point working legitimately is there?”

Difficult to argue with that one.

LW Comment

The Wapping Mole was never asked by Operation Lynemouth to provide them with any assistance or give them the benefit of his knowledge of the subject in question. But then few were. OK, the electoral petitioners were kept in the loop but just to keep them happy.

Reality is that Lutfur Rahman, who still lurks in the background of Tower Hamlets politics, will feel emboldened to once more attempt to regain power. Which he will do.

Hard truth is that the whole issue of Lutfur Rahman and his completely legal activities was mishandled from the start by the authorities. From then on they have been playing catch-up and, as today’s news makes clear, have failed miserably.

Ordinary residents will be asking the same questions today as they have for the last few years – “Why is nobody in jail?”

Beats us.

Corruption in Tower Hamlets politics is still alive and well in all its many forms.

Corruption is not always about obtaining money or gaining other favours by dodgy means.

The politician who wins a vote and gains their seat on false promises is corrupt.

The politician who only pays lip service to serving their community while only being concerned with how they can use elected office to boost their own ego is corrupt.

The politician who neglects their duty as an elected representative and fails the poorest and most needy in our borough is corrupt.

Despite today’s statement regarding Operation Lynemouth we at LW remain convinced that the bad guys will be defeated.

So if you are one of those people who hold the people of Tower Hamlets in contempt and use them for your own personal gain you have every reason to be very worried indeed.

Full Text of MPS Statement

In May 2017, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) established a new investigation, Operation Lynemouth, to reinvestigate previous or new criminal allegations relating to the Tower Hamlets 2014 mayoral election.

The purpose of the new investigation was to assess and, where appropriate, investigate criminal allegations relating to electoral fraud and malpractice, or other criminal offences.

The new investigation focused on four strands:

(1) a review of 27 files of documents from the 2015 election petition court hearing. The court’s judgment made findings against Lutfur Rahman and Alibor Choudhury, and the mayoral election result was declared void;

(2) an assessment of all evidence of electoral fraud and malpractice relating to the 2014 mayoral election;

(3) a reassessment and review of other criminal allegations relating to Lutfur Rahman or the London Borough of Tower Hamlets; and

(4) an independent review by the City of London Police (COLP) of the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation into Communities, Localities and Culture (CLC) Youth Project grant funding.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have inspected the Met’s investigation and published interim assurance reports every quarter. Four interim reports have been published.

The MPS has now concluded Operation Lynemouth.

After extensive enquiries by a new dedicated team of specialist detectives, the investigation has not identified sufficient additional evidence or investigative opportunities to enable the Met to request the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider the charging of any individual in relation to offences of electoral fraud and malpractice arising from the 2014 mayoral election.

The Met’s new investigation has identified prima facie evidence of a serious criminal offence, which is not directly related to electoral fraud. Such is the nature of the offence, the City of London Police has agreed to investigate on behalf of the MPS. The HMICFRS have previously reported on this in their interim reports.

The Met’s investigation and a wider review of how we work with election Returning Officers, has led to a number of changes to the training and deployment of police officers during elections, and to how criminal investigations are conducted. The Met introduced a bespoke policing plan for the 2018 local and mayoral election in Tower Hamlets, and the attendance of MPS officers on a new national training course for police officers responsible for investigating electoral fraud and malpractice.

The outcome of the Met’s new investigation does not undermine the 2015 election court judgment of Mr Mawrey QC. The type and nature of evidence the election court was able to consider is much wider than that which is permissible within any criminal investigation or subsequent proceedings.

Strands 1 & 2

Previously, the MPS was not legally allowed to examine the 27 files of documents from the election court, the material had been considered by the CPS who had not referred any matters to the police for investigation. As part of the new police investigation, in May 2017 the MPS received legal authority to review the 27 files.

Operation Lynemouth undertook a detailed assessment of the evidence relating to 169 separate allegations and one other matter identified by the new investigation, a total of 170 individual allegations. 15 specialist detectives have considered over 2,450 documents and statements, 28 days of election court transcripts, and several thousand pages of digital material.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were engaged by the Met’s Operation Lynemouth to provide early investigative advice on a number of criminal allegations arising from the available material in relation to Strands 1, 2 and 3. The CPS concluded that it was very unlikely that the Code for Crown Prosecutors test would ever be passed in respect of the potential offences that had been identified. The MPS has accordingly reviewed all the available evidence, together with the CPS advice, and decided that there are no offences arising from these allegations that should be referred to the CPS for a charging decision.

Of the 170 allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice relating to the 2014 mayoral election;

• 66 allegations related to behaviour that did not amount to a criminal offence,

• 9 were duplicate allegations, previously recorded by police,

• 16 allegations related to ‘ghost voters’. These were confirmed as errors and none of the individuals voted,

• 18 allegations related to rejected postal votes due to irregularities with signatures, none were found by electoral services and police to equate to a criminal offence.

The remaining 61 allegations of criminal offences were all reinvestigated. The new investigation concurred with the previous investigation outcomes whereby:

• one person was charged with making a false statement on a nomination paper but no evidence was offered at court and the case was dismissed.

• 2 persons received a police caution, and

• 6 persons received written warnings.

In all other matters there was insufficient evidence for any individual to be referred to the CPS for a charging decision.

Strand 3

In addition to allegations arising from the 2014 mayoral election, the MPS has considered the evidence in a number of other criminal allegations.

• 1 allegation remains under investigation by the MPS,

• 3 allegations form part of a wider investigation led by the City of London Police,

• 2 allegations had previously been subject to criminal proceedings, and no additional action was necessary,

• 2 allegations have been dealt with by the relevant investigative or regulatory body,

• In 6 cases, there was insufficient evidence a criminal offence had been committed, and

• In 4 cases, due to the nature of the criminal allegation it was not proportionate to undertake any additional investigative enquiries.

Strand 4

The City of London Police review into the previous MPS investigation into Tower Hamlets Communities, Localities and Culture (CLC) Youth Project grant funding concluded that all reasonable lines of enquiry have been adequately progressed. However, it did identify areas for learning with regards to the timeliness and management of the investigation; the initial assessment and allocation of fraud allegations; supervision of crime reports; and the training of investigators in the fraud investigation model. The review made four learning recommendations that are being progressed by the MPS Serious and Organised Crime Command.

As part of the reinvestigation, the MPS directly engaged with a number of key people and groups directly affected by the allegations and the police investigation. The local police commander for Tower Hamlets, Chief Superintendent Sue Williams, has remained in close contact with the local community and interested parties, and led the local policing operation for the 2018 mayoral election.

The final cost of the new MPS investigation amounted to £1.7million, and involved up to 20 detectives and police staff.

The MPS has shared its findings with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, who were asked to inspect and provide assurance of the MPS’s progress at the beginning of the operation.

Commander Stuart Cundy, who oversaw the investigation said:

“The MPS undertook this new investigation because it recognised there were concerns about the previous police investigations, and it was important to identify any immediate matters for action in advance of the 2018 mayoral election in Tower Hamlets.

“A team of specialist detectives, led by one of our most experienced senior investigating officers, have reviewed thousands of pieces of information and witness evidence over the past 15 months.

“The reinvestigation has concluded that, whilst there were some areas for improvement, overall the previous police investigations into electoral fraud, including the Met’s Special Enquiry team investigations, were conducted effectively. We have spent months assessing the evidence to identify any potential investigative opportunities that could be progressed now, or should have been progressed in the original investigations, and where appropriate we have obtained early investigative advice from the CPS.

“We have not identified any evidential opportunities where we could present any new case to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.

“However, we have identified evidence of a potentially serious criminal offence that is not linked to the 2014 mayoral elections. We obtained early investigative advice from the CPS and specialist legal counsel, and due to the nature of the potential offences the City of London Police have agreed to undertake a full and separate criminal investigation.

“Our reinvestigation did identify aspects of the original investigation, where the Met needed to learn – this included how we work with Returning Officers to police elections, the training and briefing of police officers, our engagement with prospective candidates and local communities, and ensuring an accurate record is kept of all investigative enquiries. These areas of organisational learning were effectively incorporated into policing plans for the local London elections and Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election held in May 2018.

“After an exhaustive reinvestigation I do not believe that these areas of learning affected the outcome of the earlier police investigations. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services have regularly inspected the MPS reinvestigation and reported their findings in four interim reports.

“I have previously said that the Met could have been more open in its engagement with a number of directly affected key individuals and groups. Throughout the reinvestigation, detectives have maintained contact with a number of those individuals.

“I know some will remain concerned as to why the criminal investigation has not led to persons being convicted of a criminal offence. As explained in his judgment, Mr Mawrey QC was clear that the rules and procedures for the admissibility of evidence in an election court is quite different to criminal proceedings. In reaching its conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to seek any new charging decision for a criminal offence, our reinvestigation has robustly considered all the evidence that is available.

“The Met is absolutely committed to effectively investigating criminal allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice, which is why despite the significant operational challenges facing the MPS we have thoroughly reinvestigated all matters relating to the 2014 mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. “

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