Tower Hamlets electoral fraud investigation ends with no charges

Lutfur Rahman Pic: Name withheld

Lutfur Rahman Pic: Name withheld

A fraud investigation into the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election has ended with no charges being laid due to insufficient evidence.

The Metropolitan Police announced that it has concluded the year-long probe which involved 20 detectives and police staff.

The Met said it did not find sufficient evidence to consider charging any individual “in relation to electoral fraud and malpractice in the election”, in a statement on Friday.

The operation, named Lynemouth, was launched by Scotland Yard police in May 2017 to determine whether criminal charges should follow after an election court found former mayor Luftur Rahman guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

After the May 2014 election was declared void in April 2015, Mr Rahman was disqualified from holding electoral office for five years and was ordered to pay £250,000.

In a statement the Met Police commander Stuart Cundy said the investigation, which cost £1.7 million, has unearthed ”prima facie evidence“ of a serious offence ”not directly linked“ to election fraud.

The police force said: ”Such is the nature of the offence, the City of London Police has agreed to investigate on behalf of the MPS.”

Mr Cundy, who led the investigation, said the Met acknowledged concerns about a prior police investigation into the 2014 election.

Mr Cundy said: “The MPS undertook this new investigation because it recognised there were concerns about the previous police investigations.

“It was important to identify any immediate matters for action in advance of the 2018 mayoral election in Tower Hamlets.”

The commander also said the investigation has considered “all the evidence available”.

Mr Cundy said: ”I know some will remain concerned as to why the criminal investigation has not led to persons being convicted of a criminal offence.

“In reaching its conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to seek any new charging decision for a criminal offence, our re-investigation has robustly considered all the evidence that is available.

In a statement this week, the mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs praised the changes in the borough since the 2014 election.

Mr Biggs said: “Tower Hamlets has moved on since this unsavoury chapter in its history. We have transformed the ways we work, created a culture of political openness and changed our direction.

“The 2018 mayoral and local election was significant in that it was a fair and secure election, and all but one of Luftur Rahman’s former councillors lost their seats. We look forward to the final resolution of any further outstanding investigation.”

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