At the governance referendum likely to be held on 6 May next year, Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs will be campaigning in favour of retaining the local authority model he has headed since 2015. And so, it would appear, will the man who was briefly his nemesis in 2014 – Lutfur Rahman, who won the inaugural Tower Hamlets Mayor election in 2010 but was deprived of a second triumph four years later after an election court judgement subsequently found he had indulged in “corrupt and illegal practices” during his campaign.
Those were not criminal offences – it wasn’t that sort of legal process – and a later investigation by the Met did not identify “sufficient additional evidence” to bring criminal charges (though a 2019 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, commissioned by Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for policing Sophie Linden, found “multiple failings” in the Met’s handling of potential leads). But the election court outcome did mean the 2014 election was declared void and Rahman was banned from seeking public office for five years.
A fresh election held the following year was won comfortably by Biggs and he secured his position resoundingly in 2018. Prior to that, in February 2017, Rahman was reported to be attempting to form a new political party. But in June of that year he lost an appeal against his election ban, and that December he was banned from practising as a solicitor.
However, a Tower Hamlets mayoral source recently described Rahman as being “on manoeuvres” and now a leaflet has been sighted – pictured above – which suggests that Rahman will play a part in the governance referendum, taking the same side of the argument as Biggs. This raises the obvious question of why he would do that if isn’t considering making another run for Mayor at the local elections scheduled for 2022. Answers might be forthcoming before too long.
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