The prospect of Lutfur Rahman returning to the political scene in Tower Hamlets has already caused consternation at the highest level.
Cabinet Office minister Chris Skidmore has asked the Electoral Commission to take a “forensic review” of any application to register a party by the man who was kicked out of office by the courts for corrupt practices.
It is unlikely that Mr Rahman himself would front any new party but his supporters are ready to launch Tower Hamlets Together, the successor to Tower Hamlets First, which was ordered by the courts to disband.
Mr Skidmore said: “Despite the removal of the then elected mayor for corruption, fraud remains a real threat in Tower Hamlets.
“Government appointed officials still administer some of the councils’ functions. Indeed, following reports that the ex-mayor is to re-launch his political party, I have written to the Electoral Commission asking them to undertake a forensic review of any application to register as a party.”
Mr Rahman has already returned to Tower Hamlets politics, albeit behind the scenes. He has endorsed Cllr Ohid Ahmed to challenge for the mayoralty in 2018. Although Cllr Ahmed has not yet revealed under which banner he will stand, no-one expects him to do anything other follow his mentor’s instructions.
Meanwhile the police will come before the London Assembly on Thursday (February 9) to answer for their stance on electoral fraud after they were roundly criticised for failing to charge anyone connected with the Tower Hamlets scandal.
Mr Skidmore made reference to the decision after describing “extreme” instances of “intimidation and undue influence outside polling stations” which has led to a move away from the “trust-based” system of voting.
He said: “Many have rightly questioned why there were no criminal prosecutions in Tower Hamlets following the Election Court judgment in 2015. The court resulted in findings of corrupt and illegal practices to a criminal standard of proof, following extensive scrutiny and cross-examination in the Royal Courts of Justice.”
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