Campaigner who took Rahman to court plans legal action over former Tower Hamlets First councillors


Azmal Hussain seeks to suspend 17 Tower Hamlets councillors. Pic: Katharina Schöffmann

Seventeen councillors from the disbarred Tower Hamlets First party are now facing a new legal challenge.

One of the petitioners who launched the successful claim in the Electoral Court against Luftur Rahman, now wants to sue the Electoral Commission for not suspending the 17 councillors, who were elected in the  2014 elections, They including Rabina Khan, who is standing in the re-run Mayoral election next month.

Azmal Hussain has submitted a Letter before Action to the Electoral Commission outlining his requests to remove the councillors.

Rahman founded Tower Hamlets First (THF) after his expulsion from the Labour Party in 2013. Last month, the Electoral Commission delisted THF as a political party in the wake of the Electoral Court judgment which disbarred Rahman from office.

Hussain told Eastlondonlines: “I am suing the Electoral Commission because, already in the judgement, it is written that all the 17 councillors were corrupt. So why don’t they take action?

“If they don’t take action, I will take action against the Electoral Commission in the High Court.”

The Electoral Commission told Eastlondonlines: “We can confirm that we have received, and responded to, the letter from Mr Hussain. In this we have outlined that the Electoral Commission has no power to remove any elected official, including councillors, from their elected office. Commissioner Mawrey [the Electoral Court judge] said in his judgment that, according to the law, each of the councillors is fully entitled to retain his or her seat until the next election in 2018.”

They added: “He is welcome to launch legal action, but under electoral law, all of those councillors are allowed to retain their seats.”

Bob Watt, Professor of Law from Buckingham University told Eastlondonlines: “There are certainly comments in the judgment which support the view that Commissioner Mawrey considers the entire election to be tainted by corruption. However Mr Mawrey did not hold the other THF Councillors guilty of corrupt or illegal practices – technically this is known as ‘naming them’. He named Alibor Choudhary, who is unseated and barred.

“I cannot see any cause of action for suing the Electoral Commission. I cannot see any way of getting this matter in front of the High Court. In my view it is doomed to failure.”

Oliur Rahman, who is one of the 17 councillors named in Hussain’s letter and leader of the Independent Group, told Eastlondonlines: “I think this is a politically motivated attack. He wants to create a distraction and diversion to divert our minds from the focus of the mayoral election”

Khan initially stood as a councillor for THF in 2014, and is now independent. She will also stand as an independent in the mayoral election but is not part of the Independent Group, which is comprised of the rest of the former THF councillors.

Hussain was one of four voters  who lodged a complaint under the Representation of the People Act against Rahman alleging improper conduct during the 2014 mayoral campaign.

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