The former mayor of Tower Hamlets was never investigated by police despite being found guilty of corrupt and illegal election practices, a court has heard.
Lutfur Rahman was banned from running for election for five years after a High Court case in 2015 found him guilty of fraud in the 2014 mayoral election.
No criminal action was taken against Mr Rahman at the time. However, the Metropolitan Police agreed to look into the case in February this year after police watchdog HMIC was approached to investigate police inaction.
Earlier this year it emerged that 27 files of evidence held by the Director of Public Prosecutions were never passed onto the Metropolitan Police, while the Met revealed officers decided not to pass on other files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) because it was deemed insufficient evidence.
Mr Rahman is now fighting to overturn his election ban under article six of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to a fair trial and says anyone charged with a criminal offence must be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
Mr Rahman is arguing that because the electoral court found him personally guilty of election fraud, his right to a fair trial has been compromised.
His barrister, Paul Bowen QC, said Mr Rahman was “the main man” during the electoral court process and must have been the subject of a police investigation as a result.
If Mr Rahman was under a criminal investigation, Mr Bowen argues that he should not have been found guilty in a civil court before he faced a criminal trial and his rights to a fair trial should have been protected.
However, the barrister representing the Metropolitan Police, James Segan, insisted that no police investigation had been opened into Mr Rahman at the time.
During the second day of the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday, May 18, Mr Segan said: “Mr Rahman was never charged with a criminal offence. Mr Rahman was never acquitted.
“Mr Rahman was not a named suspect. This means he was never considered by the relevant officers someone who warranted being given a PACE Code C caution [being interviewed under caution].
“The distinction is between a suspect and a person of interest. A person of interest is someone linked to what is being investigated but is not a suspect who faces investigation themselves.”
He added that Mr Rahman should have raised his concerns about a fair trial during the electoral court proceedings in 2015, and that Mr Bowen's argument meant that “it was effectively impossible for the electoral court to proceed to hear this case in 2015 and make any findings at all, certainly not findings of personal guilt against Mr Rahman, without breaking article six.”
However, Mr Bowen argued: “We do not say there could not be any electoral court proceedings, only no electoral court proceedings that determine personal guilt.
“It’s purely a legal argument. It’s a pure question of law.”
Mr Rahman’s case will now be considered by two senior judges, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Supperstone, who will announce their decision in due course.
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook