Last year I concluded that democracy was not functioning on Tower Hamlets. Now in a victory for demcracy Richard Mawrey, an Election Commissioner, has declared a flawed election for Mayor in that borough null void and void. The contest will have to be re-run after Lutfur rahman, the directly elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices. Mr Rahman has been banned from standing again.
Four brave voters took legal action against Mr Rahman – despite knowing that by challenging him they would be denounced as racist and Islamaphobic. Mr Mawrey described Mr Rahman as “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion”. The BBC reports that: “Lawyers for the four made a series of allegations – including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.
Responding to Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman’s guilty verdict, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“I sent in Commissioners into the dysfunctional mayoral administration following the mismanagement of public money and the breakdown of democratic accountability.
An independent Election Court has now found the Mayor and his agents guilty of corrupt practices, including bribery and the abuse of public money.
This judgment vindicates our action to intervene.
The immediate priority of the Commissioners must be to ensure a free and fair election takes place on 7 May.
I will now ask the Commissioners whether further resources or powers are necessary to help them stamp out this culture of corruption in Tower Hamlets.
The Commissioners’ powers may need to be extended in the interim before any by-election.
The police also need to take steps to stop further corrupt practices following this damning judgement.
We must also challenge those who seek to spread further division in light of the ruling.
There can be no place for rotten boroughs in 21st Century Britain.”
The Labour Party supported this action. But this saga yet again shows the poor judgement of Ken Livingstone in supporting Mr Rahman – and the poor judgemnt of Labour party members in continuing to elect Mr Livingstone to their National Executive Committee.
This is a good day for democracy.