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Controversial former Tower Hamlets mayor back in power in London borough

By Aine Fox
PA Wire

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.

Lutfur Rahman defeated Tower Hamlets incumbent John Biggs (PA)

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.

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Dive Deeper:
Lutfur Rahman elected mayor of Tower Hamlets despite five-year ban for ‘corrupt and illegal practices’
Labour nemesis back in power in east London despite ‘corrupt and illegal practices’
Labour loses east London council to Aspire party
The Aspire Party, founded by Lutfur Rahman, gained Tower Hamlets Council from Labour after winning 24 of the 45 seats.
Lutfur Rahman wins Tower Hamlets mayor vote after five-year ban
Politician was kicked out of office in 2015 after election tribunal found him guilty of vote-rigging
A very simple guide to today’s local elections
Voters will be choosing local representatives in England, Scotland and Wales and there will also be an election for the…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
A very simple guide to the 2022 local elections
Voters will be choosing local representatives in England, Scotland and Wales and there will also be an election for the…
Tory MPs urged to unite behind Johnson after local election losses
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted the Prime Minister remained an electoral asset despite the loss of almost 400 councillors.
Get all your news in one place