Richard Mawrey QC delivered a landmark verdict today in relation to the Tower Hamlets mayoral election case.
Mr Mawrey went through the Representation of the People Act 1983 in relation to the accusations against Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman and his election agent Alibor Choudhury.
Making false statements against a candidate - found guilty
He told the court Mr Rahman ran a “ruthless and dishonest” campaign to convince the electorate that rival candidate John Biggs was a racist.
He added: “However, when I questioned him on this he couldn’t actually accuse him of being a racist, and as usual he evaded the question and temporised instead.”
Distributing grants - found guilty of bribery, treating and undue influence
The court heard that Mr Rahman had given grants to groups “that hadn’t even applied for them”.
Mr Mawrey said: “It was impossible to deduce any rational link to why he had given these groups the money - money which had been diverted away from going to the Alzhemier's Society.
“They were undoubtedly made corruptly - in short they were intended to influence people to vote for him.
“He attempted to convince me these (payments) were entirely above board - but there was no documented evidence to back up these assertions. (Mr Rahman’s and Mr Choudhury’s) evidence was wholly undocumented and flew in the face of the facts.
“(Mr Rahman) used his position to target his core community and promote his position as mayor and to promote himself within the Bangladeshi community.”
Undue spiritual influence - found guilty
Judge Mawrey said: “The message ‘if you are a good Muslim, you will vote for Rahman’ was widely reported around the Bangladeshi community.
He also told the court that a poll asking what people identify themselves as found that of those in Tower Hamlets 35% said Muslims and 25% Christians - with 32% saying Bandgledeshi.
He highlighted this as a comment on Mr Rahman’s claim he was fighting for the Bangladeshi community, which he said was a minority.
Following on from this, he said: “This community is more likely to be respectful of spiritual leaders, not as integrated with other communities and are more traditiional.”
“Mr Rahman spent a great deal of time accusing Mr Biggs of dividing the community, but if anyone is guilty of that it is him.”
Voter intimidation - found not guilty
Mr Mawrey said: “(People felt intimidated at polling booths) - not all the time, not at all polling booths, but it was enough intimidation to alarm voters.”
However, he said that in order to prove voter intimidation there needs to be a demonstration of “a serious level of violence before it will prompt an election to be voided - it falls short of reaching this level.”