Police did not properly investigate allegations made against Lutfur Rahman, the disgraced ex-mayor of Tower Hamlets, a response from prosecutors today suggests.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed in reply to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request that the Metropolitan Police did not send specialists a file of evidence to allow them to decide whether Rahman could be prosecuted for any offences after an election court found him guilty of illegality.
Anti-corruption campaigner Andy Erlam was instrumental in bringing an end to Rahman’s corrupt reign and has been fighting to try and ensure all those involved in the vote-rigging scandal in Tower Hamlets are held to account.
He asked the CPS if police had submitted a full prosecution report on election offences allegedly committed by Rahman and others, following the court’s verdict in 2015, and was informed they had not.
“If by ‘full prosecution report’ you mean a file of evidence submitted at the conclusion of the investigation for the purposes of enabling the CPS to decide whether any offences should be prosecuted, then no such report was ever received,” the CPS told Erlam today in reply to his FoI request.
The revelation appears to contradict assurances given by Scotland Yard’s deputy chief Craig Mackey, who last month insisted that a file had been shared with the CPS, which he said had then made a decision there was insufficient evidence on which to base a criminal prosecution.
Rahman has effectively been allowed to “get away with it”, according to Erlam, as he has faced no real punishment.
His view echoes that of Sir Ken Knight and the government commissioners sent in to oversee the running of Tower Hamlets Council. They last month wrote: “To the outside world, the overall outcome of the investigations [into Rahman and others alleged to have been involved in the election scandal] can only look like justice denied, and a taint still hangs over specific election outcomes.”
Despite being found guilty of corrupt practices, no criminal charges have been brought against him.
Although the standard of proof in an election court is the same as in a criminal court – namely, beyond reasonable doubt – it is part of the High Court so is concerned only with civil cases.
Rahman was banned from running for office for five years and costs were awarded against him – but he was soon after declared bankrupt. It is thought he still owes hundreds of thousands of pounds to Erlam and three others who were plaintiffs in the High Court case.
In a letter to insolvency firm Alexander Lawson Jacobs, which has been involved in trying to identify Rahman’s debts and assets, Erlam wrote that he had put as much as £100,000 into the case and that he and others are owed “significant sums which we are hoping to recover”, adding: “It’s a matter of fairness”.
Erlam, who sits on the bankruptcy committee, has said he will not approve the firm’s fees unless it extends Rahman’s bankruptcy order, which gives investigators more power to look into the ex-mayor’s financial affairs.
He added: “No one understands why the Metropolitan police refuses to seriously investigate Rahman.”
London Citizen has asked Alexander Lawson Jacobs for comment and is awaiting a reply.
The Met has insisted it properly investigated Rahman and that evidence was shared with the CPS.
It consulted with a specialist prosecutor to obtain “early advice” on charging decisions, the CPS confirmed, but the service also stated: “The Metropolitan Police Service did not at any stage send a ‘full prosecution report’ to the CPS on election offences allegedly committed by Lutfur Rahman.”