It’s always dangerous to speculate on the outcome of claims relating to political corruption – civil or criminal. Evidence has to be tested and assertions measured before anyone rushes to judgement. The Guardian is learning that lesson today with the news that Lutfur Rahman must vacate his post as mayor of Tower Hamlets and is banned from seeking office again.
Judge Richard Mawrey QC handed down his verdict after a 10-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Rahman was found to have been involved in vote rigging, falsely branding his Labour rival as a ‘racist’ and even seeking spiritual influence from local imams.
The matter began after a group of four residents had called for last year’s mayoral election, in which Rahman triumphed over Labour rival, John Biggs, to be declared void and rerun.
When the issue was first publicly aired the Guardian couldn’t wait to rush to its own conclusions. In an article titled ‘The smear campaign against Lutfur Rahman is an insult to democracy’ published on May 30, 2014 the paper left readers in no doubt where it stood on Rahman’s supposed innocence of any claims of wrongdoing. This was despite a Panorama expose that backed up the original claims that something was indeed rotten in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
The Guardian summarized its article – such as it was – with this finishing paragraph: “The story of Lutfur Rahman is a democratic success story. The fact that it seems dodgy to the political and media classes is indicative of how long they’ve been insulated from anything resembling real democracy.”
Well at least the Left’s newspaper of choice got something right. Today real democracy triumphed and the Guardian was proven utterly and comprehensively wrong. Here’s hoping it has learned its own lesson in the process.