The disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets has allegedly made a second attempt to launch a new political party, after police failed to bring any criminal charges against him for political corruption.
Lutfur Rahman was removed from office in April 2015 after a special electoral court found him guilty of corruption and illegal practices, including wielding “undue spiritual influence” over Muslim voters.
He was also accused of diverting millions in grants to charities run by Bangladeshis and Somalis in return for political support, paying local Bangladeshi TV channels and newspapers for positive coverage, and spending public funds on “vanity” offices and cars.
His alleged associates attempted to register a new party called “Tower Hamlets Together” in January last year, but the application was rejected.
The electoral commission have set out below the names of the proposed registered officers listed in the application to register Aspire
· Leader; Kalam Mahmud Abu Taher Choudhury
· Nominating office: Lilian Collins
· Treasure: Jahed Bokth Choudhury
— Peter Golds (@going4golds) January 16, 2018
Now, according to the local website Love Wapping, he has allegedly attempted again, with his suspected associates submitting an application for a party called “Aspire” with an almost identical logo in December 2017.
The website reports that the Electoral Commission’s assessment of the application is nearly complete, and the deadline for residents making comments on the attempts to register “Aspire” only runs until the 18th of January.
— Love Wapping (@LoveWapping) January 16, 2018
Mr. Rahman is thought to still have numerous people in Tower Hamlets council loyal to him, and some have connections to Islamists like the powerful Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), which is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and hard-line groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami.
Despite being found to have broken the law and the numerous allegations, in 2015, the police and Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal prosecution.
The force was accused of “major failings” in March of this year. Steve O’Connell, the chairman of the London Assembly police and crime committee, said there was “widespread concern” about the police inaction.
“During our investigation, we as a committee have been shocked to uncover major failings by the Metropolitan police in its ability to investigate allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice,” he told PA.
A crackdown on voter impersonation and postal vote fraud! Only fifteen years late. https://t.co/FSTmNQL6Oa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 20, 2017
“Missed files of evidence, missed opportunities to gather witness statements, witnesses who were prepared to give evidence in the election court, but were unwilling to do so in criminal proceedings – this is not what we expect from a supposedly world-leading police force.”
In May last year, Mr. Rahman attempted to use the European Convention on Human Rights to lift his five-year ban on standing for office, filing an application for a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Seven months later, in December, he was struck off the roll of solicitors and handed £86,400 in legal costs order after losing three-day disciplinary hearing.