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Mayor must pay PS250k following election fraud.

Byline: Brian Farmer and Jan COLLEY newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

AMAYOR has been found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices by a judge following an Election Court trial estimated to have run up legal bills of about PS1m.

Lutfur Rahman - directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, in east London - was found "personally" guilty of wrongdoing and "guilty by his agents" by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey.

Mr Mawrey said the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election was void and that Mr Rahman could not stand at a new election.

Four voters took legal action against Mr Rahman at a hearing in the High Court in London which ran for several weeks earlier this year.

The group was headed by Andy Erlam, who had stood as a councillor on an anti-corruption ticket.

"It is a fantastic result for democracy," he said after yesterday's ruling.

"There will have to be a new election for mayor. Mr Rahman cannot stand."

The four voters mounted a challenge under the provisions of the Representation Of The People Act.

Lawyers for the group made a series of allegations, including "personation" in postal voting and at polling stations, and ballot paper tampering.

Mr Rahman had said there was "little, if any" evidence of wrongdoing against him.

His lawyers described the group of four's claims as invention, exaggeration and "in some cases downright deliberately false allegations".

But Mr Mawrey made a series of findings against Mr Rahman - who was born in Bangladesh in 1965.

He said the effect of his ruling was that "Mr Rahman's election as mayor on 22 May 2014 was void - that is to say, it is as if it had never taken place. He has not lawfully been mayor since that date".

He said "a new mayoral election" would have to be arranged.

He added: "It is declared that Mr Rahman shall be incapable of being elected to fill the vacancy for the office of mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets."

"The evidence laid before this court... has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets," he said.

"This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation. It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man."

He added: "The real losers are the citizens of Tower Hamlets."

Mr Rahman was not in court to hear Mr Mawrey's verdict.

A statement on Mr Rahman's website said: "Today's judgment has come as a shock - the mayor strongly denies any wrongdoing and had full confidence in the justice system.

"We are seeking further legal advice on the matter."

A spokesman for Mr Rahman said the statement was from Mr Rahman.

The judge ordered Mr Rahman to make a PS250,000 payment on account of the costs incurred by the four voters and other parties involved.

Barrister Duncan Penny, QC, who represented Mr Rahman, challenged the sum claimed, describing it as "mind-boggling".

Mr Mawrey said: "If the money isn't there, you will have to fight it out in an insolvency."

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Lufur Rahman is barred from <Bstanding in new elections

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 24, 2015
Words:524
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