Disgraced ex-mayor of Tower Hamlets faces battle over court fees

Lutfur Rahman in Whitechapel Pic: Alan Denney

Lutfur Rahman has declared himself bankrupt before his battle over paying legal fees. Pic: Alan Denney

Disgraced former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman is set to appear in court again this week in a battle over his outstanding legal fees.

Rahman, who was re-elected mayor of Tower Hamlets in the the 2014 mayoral election, was found guilty of committing election fraud earlier this year, along with his election agent Alibor Choudhury.

However, Rahman has not paid any part of the settlement figures demanded by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey upon delivering the guilty verdict in April.

Mawrey had told Rahman to cover the costs of the voters who had brought evidence of misconduct against him, a bill estimated to be £500,000. Further, Rahman was ordered to hand over £250,000 on an account.

It is understood that that between December 1 – 3, Rahman, who was born in Bangladesh, will have his financial assets examined in court, including his three London properties.

This payment problem has recently been exacerbated, as Rahman declared himself bankrupt some seven months after the initial court order was imposed.

The Individual Insolvency Service lists the previous mayor as being currently bankrupt in a document dated November 18 on its website.

The timing of Rahman’s insolvency has raised questions. Upon declaring bankruptcy, a person’s debts are automatically cleared, meaning that the ex-mayor may no longer be liable for a large proportion of the outstanding costs.

At a hearing in July this year, Mr Justice Edis had ordered Rahman to disclose information about his income and expenditure for the past five years and said assets over the value of £350,000 would be frozen indefinitely. The judge said Rahman should also disclose tax returns going back seven years.

Anti-corruption campaigner Andy Erlam and three local petitioners started the legal action against Rahman under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act in late 2014, citing malpractice including voting fraud, false statements, bribery and treating.

Rahman was removed from office and his victory declared void in April. Mawrey who sat as a judge in the High Court found Rahman guilty of corrupt and illegal practices to secure his position.

Mawrey described how the mayor had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care”. He portrayed the humiliated politician as an “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful”.

John Biggs, who had competed against Rahman in the 2014 mayoral election and suffered alleged slurs against his character, won the by-election in June after the initial election was declared void.

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