Scotland Yard has responded to growing disque and launched a fresh investigation into allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in Tower Hamlets.
The 2015 High Court case which saw former council mayor Lutfur Rahman kicked out of office heard numerous instances of fraud and malpractice relating to the discredited 2014 election.
That case led to Mr Rahman being found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices but there was widespread anger when the police closed the file on the episode despite new evidence emerging on oath.
No criminal action was ever taken to Mr Rahman, leading to the former mayor to claim he was exonerated as he tries to overturn the ban on standing for public office. His party Tower Hamlets First was also disbanded although its councillors still sit in the chamber under a different name.
In recent weeks, the police watchdog HMIC has been formally approached to investigate the police inaction after the London Assembly declared there had been ”major failings” in the case and there were question marks over the disappearance of 27 files of evidence that were sent from the High Court to the Department of Public Prosecution.
Now the Met says it recognises “concerns have been raised” and has pledged to revisit those files.
Police received 164 complaints of election malpractice in Tower Hamlets in and around the election in May 2014. Two people were cautioned and one person was charged with a candidate nomination offence. Another six people received verbal or written warnings about their conduct.
Police said they have carried out an internal analysis of these investigations and have launched “a new operation to examine, and where required, investigate the criminal allegations”.
Mayor welcomes probe
Mayor John Biggs, who won the subsequent re-run election, said: “I welcome that the Met have finally accepted they need to look again at the electoral fraud found by the Election Court to see what charges, if any, can be brought against those involved.
“It beggars belief that despite the court finding Tower Hamlets First guilty of corruption and overturning the election the Met have yet to convict anyone.
“The corruption uncovered in the 2014 election has cast a long shadow over politics in Tower Hamlets. Our community need confidence that those responsible for trying to steal that election will be brought to justice. I hope that this time the police can make that happen.”
Andy Erlam, who was one of the four who brought the cases against Mr Rahman, said: “I welcome the fresh investigation. There can be no cover-up. Industrial-scale financial fraud at the town hall is now in the spotlight.”
• The Met has also asked the City of London Police to launch an independent review into its investigation into criminal allegations surrounding grant funding, another area that the Election Court highlighted.
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