In Chicago, he would be called a Democrat.
Muslim mayor ‘stole votes to win power’: London council boss on trial for fraud, as voters are ‘told it was sin not to back him’ and witnesses and families threatened
- Lutfur Rahman allegedly used illegal tactics to win May mayoral election
- Four voters were granted a rare seven-week electoral trial at High Court
- They claim Mayor Rahman ‘subverted democracy’ during the campaign
- Supporters accused of branding his main rival racist and anti-Islamic
- Man ‘told not voting for Rahman would make him a bad Muslim’
- Public were told not voting for Rahman was an ‘un-Islamic and sinful act’
- Rahman says claims are based on ‘invention’, ‘exaggeration’ and ‘in some cases downright deliberately false allegations’
Election case: Lutfur Rahman, who runs Tower Hamlets Council (pictured campaigning last April), ‘subverted democracy’ during a campaign characterised by bribery, ‘ghost voting’, smears and ‘foul libel’, the High Court heard
Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor was accused in court yesterday of running a ‘den of iniquity’ and systematically stealing votes.
In a rare electoral fraud trial, Lutfur Rahman is alleged to have ‘subverted democracy’ by masterminding a campaign of corruption and intimidation to rig his re-election last year.
Muslim voters were left in tears at the ballot box after being warned it was a ‘sin’ not to back the controversial mayor, the High Court heard.
Barrister Francis Hoar said: ‘Mr Rahman has been the most senior elected executive in Tower Hamlets for almost seven years and mayor for over four of them.
‘Yet Lutfur Rahman expects this court to believe that he was unaware of any corruption, any malpractice, any foul play.
‘That he knew nothing of the false registration of voters, of the diversion of public funds to pay for his support… or of fraud. An innocent amidst a den of iniquity. Only this court may now judge.’
Mr Hoar added that anyone who challenged Rahman’s crooked practices was branded ‘racist or Islamophobic’. But after neither the police nor any other public body challenged Rahman, a private petition was launched by four residents of Tower Hamlets, which was described as a ‘rotten borough’ by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last year.
Andrew Erlam, Debbie Simone, Azmal Hussein and Angela Moffat face a six-figure legal bill to bring their action. Mr Hussein, a local restaurateur, said they had even been charged £6,000 by the police to obtain documents in support of their private case. The court heard that the children of electoral rivals received death threats on their mobiles, postal ballots were doctored, elderly voters were manipulated and an army of ‘ghost voters’ was registered.
Rahman allegedly funnelled hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to organisations run by his cronies. Rahman, 49, won the poll in May with 51.8 per cent of the vote. He had formed his own party, Tower Hamlets First, after being expelled by Labour.
Yesterday the four campaigners sat in court as their barrister Mr Hoar opened the case before Electoral Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC. The electoral judge said £65,000-a-year Rahman – who did not attend yesterday’s hearing – would be stripped of his mayoralty if the allegations were proven.