Controversial former Tower Hamlets mayor back in power in London borough
Lutfur Rahman has been elected mayor of Tower Hamlets in London, seven years after he was removed from the same post for multiple breaches of electoral law.
He beat Labour incumbent John Biggs in the second round by 40,804 votes to 33,487.
Mr Rahman was banned from politics for five years after an electoral commissioner ruled he had “driven a coach and horses through election law” and had run a “ruthless and dishonest campaign” in 2014 that included “corrupt and illegal practices”.
The commissioner said Mr Rahman had built a political career on “ignoring or flouting” the law and silencing his critics with accusations of racism or Islamophobia.
However, a lengthy police inquiry decided there was insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.
He was later struck off as a solicitor and handed an £86,400 legal costs order. A separate judge also ruled he had misled mortgage lenders and failed to declare income from rental properties to the taxman, after he declared himself bankrupt in the face of legal bills.
Andrew Wood, an independent councillor for Canary Wharf, said Mr Rahman’s remarkable comeback had in part been caused by Mr Biggs, who he said had isolated white working-class voters by introducing low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which limit car access to roads in residential areas.
Mr Rahman has pledged to reverse the LTNs. “Our roads have been closed, blocked up. It’s contributing to more CO2 in the borough when the idea was to reduce it,” he said.
Mr Rahman had also secured the support of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who said he “would trust Lutfur with my life”.
Lord Hayward, a Tory peer and elections expert, said the prospect of Rahman’s return to politics was “depressing”,
“He was banned for five years which was the maximum penalty, but sadly I believe it is inadequate,” he said.