‘Fraud’ case locals ‘frightened’


Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A Labour activist who took legal action after accusing the mayor of a London borough of ”electoral fraud” has told a judge how locals have been “too frightened” to come forward.

Retail analyst Debbie Simone said she had joined thee other voters in launching a court bid to unseat Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman because others wanted to but were afraid.

The group of four, headed by Andy Erlam, who stood as a Tower Hamlets councillor on an anti-corruption ticket, has mounted a challenge under the provisions of the 1983 Representation Of The People Act at a special High Court hearing in London.

Lawyers for the group of four have made a series of allegations – including ”personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.

Mr Rahman says there is ”little if any” evidence of wrong-doing against him.

His lawyers have described the group of four’s claims as ”invention”, ”exaggeration” and ”in some cases downright deliberately false allegations”.

Claims are being analysed by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey, a senior lawyer who is sitting as judge at a trial in the Election Court.

The hearing is expected to last several weeks.

Mr Mawrey has been asked to declare the result of a May 2014 mayoral election, which saw Mr Rahman elected for a second term, void and order a re-run.

Mr Rahman had been leader of the Labour group on the council between 2008 and 2010, Mr Mawrey has heard.

He had gone on to found a party called ”Tower Hamlets First”.

A former leader of Tower Hamlets Council has told the judge how he thought that Mr Rahman had been ”brainwashed” by members of a Muslim fundamentalist organisation before becoming mayor.

“I have chosen to come forward as a petitioner to support others who wanted to come forward but felt too frightened to do so as this could potentially affect their job and housing prospects, and that of their family members and affect their future political careers,” said Miss Simone, who gave evidence at the hearing today, in a written witness statement. “I have witnessed some irregularities.”

Miss Simone told how she had spoken to a Turkish man on a doorstep while canvassing in one Tower Hamlets ward.

“He told us that the previous week he had been visited by the Tower Hamlets First (ward) candidate Maium Miah, who had told him to vote of Mayor Lutfur and for Tower Hamlets First as he was a Muslim and good Muslims should vote for their Muslim brother Lutfur,” she said in her statement.

“The young man felt a bit pressured by this. He had left Turkey exactly because of this kind of thing and was shocked to find it going on in the UK.”

The hearing continues .

Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

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