Ooh what a kerfuffle! Scenes of elation and defeat inside and outside Court 38 at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand today as Electoral Commissioner Mawrey QC delivered a damning judgement.
At times it was enough to make you wince as Mr Mawrey forensically worked his way through the case challenging the result of the Tower Hamlets Mayoral election in 2014. Of which more below.
Prime suspects absent from court.
Neither now ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman or now ex-Cllr. Alibor Choudhury were present in court.
At least they are both consistent in their contempt for democracy and the rule of law. However this may not be a good for either of them as today proved.
The Tower Hamlets First / Respect / IFE / Whoever party seem intent on digging their hole ever deeper.
Fitting then that St. George’s day should be Armageddon day for Tower Hamlets First.
Our Love Wapping Court Sketch Artist (Sharp Pencil Group) has however created this superb drawing that illustrates what the faces of Rahman, Choudhury and others would have looked like.
Good, innit? Might get some nice sketches of the canal done.
Our special Love Wapping Court Reporter (Corruption, Intimidation and Bribery Team) attended but due to the D100 bus taking forever to get through all the roadworks at Aldgate he was at the back of the queue to get into Court 38.
The court staff seemed caught off-guard by the level of interest in the case. Maybe they don’t read the papers?
Eventually they relented and allowed the overflow to squeeze – and I do mean squeeze – into the small space between the inner and outer doors of the Court.
Only problem being that it was almost, but not quite, impossible to hear anything. And no tweet signal.
Medal for Peter Golds please!
Our Court Reporter was fortunate to be standing next to Cllr. Peter Golds who has been steadfast in the face of abuse from Rahman and Choudhury’s cronies.
Everyone in the borough who believes in democracy owes Peter Golds a debt of gratitude, irrespective of their personal political beliefs.
If Peter had not persisted with his protests against the behaviour of Tower Hamlets First the town hall would still be inhabited by ex-Mayor Lutfur.
As we sweated to catch every word Mr Mawrey continued to read out his judgement.
The more he read the more our Court Reporter believed that the day would belong to the electoral petitioners.
This extract sums up the nature of Tower Hamlets First and their incompetence.
“The nadir [of the dodgy witnesses rolled out by THF] came when one witness gave a graphic account of how he had attended a polling station to cast his vote and found it a haven of tranquillity, only to be confronted by Mr Hoar [for petitioners] with absolutely incontrovertible evidence that the witness had, in fact, voted by post well before polling day and could not have voted in person on the day.”
Not very bright are they? It’s a good job, otherwise they would still be at their illegal activities.
After an hour and a half the judgement was delivered.
Overview of findings
- Rahman guilty of corrupt and illegal practices due to the actions of his agents (aka supporters).
- Result of Mayoral election of 2014 declared void (or ‘avoided’ to use the legal terminology).
- As a consequence Rahman is an ex-Mayor. And no he is not just resting on his perch.
- Rahman ‘has not lawfully been Mayor’ since 22 May 2014*
- Rahman personally guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.
- As a solicitor Rahman referred to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.
- Choudhury guilty of corrupt practices.
- Corrupt practices ‘extensively prevailed’ at election of both Mayor and Councillors for the 20 Tower Hamlets wards.
- Both banned from office with immediate effect and banned from seeking elected office.
- Re-run of Mayoral election to be organised and for a by-election in Stepney Ward
James Moore (@Jim_EastLondon) wrote this tweet earlier today:“If Rahman has not been Mayor since the election. Are all his executive decisions now void? I.e the new town hall? @TedJeory”
Reading the judgement the answer must be no. Which is interesting.
Why so shy Rabina and Abjol?
Cllr. Rabina Khan (Cabinet member for Housing & Development, left) seemed, well, bitter.
She refused to make any comment to LW adding in a sarcastic manner ‘if it was OK to go and see her sick daughter?’
He said not a word.
Maybe neither of them understand this whole ‘law’ thing. Who knows. And who cares.
Or maybe they can see that the Tower Hamlets First house of cards is really beginning to crumble and are wondering just where their cards will fall?
So that is it. Or is it?
Just because the head of the snake has been cut off does not mean the snake is no longer dangerous.
Let’s be clear. Lutfur Rahman has only been the front man (or ‘nodding dog’ to quote one of his team) for Alibor Choudhury and whatever shadow organisation Choudhury runs in the borough.
One insider is of the opinion that the fact that Rahman and Choudhury have been removed from office will make little difference to them and their organisation.
Both men will simply continue to run their own shadow organisation from outside the Town Hall.
While the overwhelming majority of Tower Hamlets staff are good people who do a good job there is an infestation of Rahman’s supporters in the Town Hall.
It is not possible for Rahman and Choudhury to carry out their illegal activities in isolation.
This infestation has to be identified, rooted out and eliminated.
Harsh words? Not when the real scope of their activities is understood.
What happens next?
Some – but not all – of the corruption in Tower Hamlets has been identified in the High Court today and remedial action taken by the banning of two politicians.
The Election Petitioners are victorious and completely vindicated. To quote the Commissioner:
“The four Petitioners, then, have shown exemplary courage in bringing and persevering with this Petition. They have endured a difficult, exhausting and anxious eleven months.”
Every resident of London, not just Tower Hamlets, should be grateful to them.
Residents expect action from Metropolitan Police
The spotlight now turns to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
Due to the nature of their work the MPS has not been able to comment on what their enquiries have found until the Election Petition was concluded.
Well it’s done and dusted now so Tower Hamlets residents are now waiting for the Metropolitan Police to act.
Failure to act, and act promptly, will lead many of us to wonder why not?
The professionalism of all MPS officers that Love Wapping has encountered during this investigation has been second to none.
But that’s just a personal view.
Borough residents want action from the Metropolitan Police. They want to see the law be applied in the same manner it was seen to be applied in Court 38 today.
If the normal evidential standards for prosecutions are met then it would seem likely that more than a few members of Tower Hamlets First, their supporters, cronies and maybe even some Tower Hamlets council officers will be getting an early morning knock on their door.
“Fairly and equally”
To conclude with Mr Mawrey’s words:
“Even in the multicultural society which is 21st century Britain, the law must be applied fairly and equally to everyone. Otherwise we are lost.”