Luftar Rahman, the former Tower Hamlets Mayor removed from office over corruption claims has had his latest application to form a new political party approved by the Electoral Commission.
The party, named ‘Aspire’, is Rahman’s second attempt to create a new political force since he was removed from office by an Electoral Court in 2015 for “corrupt and illegal practices”.
Elaine Bagshaw, Lib Dems parliamentary spokesperson for Poplar and Limehouse, described the approval as: “utterly shameful”. Local blog ‘Love Wapping’ said it was: “the final confirmation that the Electoral Commission is not fit for purpose”.
Maybe this time they can Aspire to not break the law? https://t.co/Wrn0rqo9as
— Elaine Bagshaw (@esbagshaw) January 26, 2018
The approval follows a number of failures over the last year for Rahman. In February, his first attempt to start a new party with ‘Tower Hamlets Together’ was rejected, on grounds that the name (shared by a local health clinic) was: “likely to mislead voters as to the effect of their vote”
In June, the former mayor lost his appeal against his five-year ban on running for elected office, which will continue until 2020.
Details released by the Electoral Commission show that individuals close to the ex-Mayor will instead run Aspire in upcoming elections.
Kalam Mahmud Choudhury, Jahed Bokth Choudhury and Lillian Collin, will serve as leader, treasurer and nominating officer respectively. The former two individuals were also listed as officers for the rejected ‘Tower Hamlets Together’ party.
In addition to sharing two of three nominated officers, Aspire has also adopted a similar logo to the rejected Tower Hamlets Together.
The approval follows the report of a Solicitors’ Displinary Tribunal earlier in the week, which disclosed that in 2015, the Metropolitan Police ignored 27 files of corruption evidence against Rahman and his team, regarding illicit behavior during his 2014 election campaign.
Police said at the time that the case was not followed due to “insufficient evidence”.
The Tribunal’s findings support earlier claims made by current Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs and opposition leader Peter Golds from over a year ago, that police investigations following Rahman’s removal from office were inadequate because they failed to lead to the prosecutions of anyone on his team over ballot forgery and intimidation. The files are now being re-examined.
The Tribunal condemned a number of Rahman’s actions during his 2014 election, including calling his description of then political rival John Biggs as ‘racist’: “reprehensible, orchestrated, deliberate and dishonest”. It also said that he had used public funds for personal political purposes.