The disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets has failed in his latest bid to overturn a ban on him running for election for five-years.
An electoral court barred Lutfur Rahman from holding office in 2015 after he was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices during the 2014 mayoral election.
No criminal action was ever taken against him, and 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 Met officers did not pass on other files to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Scotland Yard agreed to reinvestigate Mr Rahman in February after police watchdog HMIC was approached to investigate police inaction in his case.
Mr Rahman applied for a judicial review in an attempt to overturn the ruling of the electoral court on the back of the police inaction.
In two days of hearings held at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18, his legal team argued that his right to a fair trial in a criminal court, as protected by article six of the European Convention on Human Rights, had been compromised by the civil court’s judgement.
Mr Rahman’s barrister Paul Bowen QC argued that it “baffles belief” that his client had not been investigated by police before this year and that if a criminal investigation was ongoing, he should not have been found guilty in a civil court until the investigation was done.
However, a barrister representing the Met Police, James Segan, insisted that although Mr Rahman was a person of interest he was never treated as a suspect or faced personal investigation at the time of the electoral court proceedings.
Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Supperstone refused Mr Rahman’s application on Thursday, June 22.
In the ruling, they said that the findings of the electoral court did not amount to a finding of criminal guilt against Mr Rahman and added that any other judgement would have “profound” implications for electoral law.
The judgement said: “Where an election is challenged, for example on the ground that it was voided by corrupt or illegal practices, the protection of democracy and the democratic process requires that the issue should be resolved and the Commissioner should be able to report as a matter of urgency.
“If it were the case that a Commissioner hearing an election petition is prevented from expressing in a civil election proceedings conclusions as to the personal guilt of a candidate [...] until such time as his guilty of innocence on corresponding criminal charges were finally determined by a court of criminal jurisdiction, a vital legislative purpose would be frustrated.”
The ruling also said that, as Mr Rahman had never been prosecuted, he could not rely on the defence of article six, and that he should have raised any concerns he had at the beginning of the electoral court proceedings.
Mr Rahman was not in court to hear the result, but Andy Erlam, one of the petitioners who led the original challenge against Mr Rahman in 2014, spoke of his delight at the result.
He said: “We’re absolutely delighted. Mr Rahman should move on and pay all his costs instead of being engaged with all these appeals that seem to be without merit.
“He needs to come to terms with the fact that what he did in the election was wrong and his punishment has to be considered and he needs to serve that punishment.
“I hope the new police investigation will result in criminal charges against any wrongdoers.”
Mr Erlam said the petitioners were still waiting for their legal costs to be paid by Mr Rahman which, including the interest they have accumulated since 2015, currently stand at around £290,000.
Mr Rahman was declared bankrupt in November 2015, seven months after being found guilty of electoral fraud.
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook