Tower Hamlets corruption probe ‘not over yet’
The book is not yet closed on the Tower Hamlets election fraud scandal despite Scotland Yard ruling out prosecutions as a result of last year’s High Court judgment.
The Government has revealed there are still investigations going in – into the grant-making aspect of the council as well as the misdeeds surrounding the vote itself.
A year on from the High Court case which saw former Mayor Lutfur Rahman booted out of office, guilty of corrupt and illegal practices, fury was roused again when the Met Police concluded they would be taking no further action against those named and shamed in Richard Mawrey’s damning indictment of the Rahman regime.
There remains a considerable degree of confusion over the reasons for the decision and explanations about legal technicalities and standards of proof have satisfied no-one, least of all the election petitioners who plan private prosecutions.
Their cause was taken up in the Commons this week by Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick who said he would also be seeking further information when he speaks to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
He said: “Scotland Yard dropped its investigation into electoral fraud after finding ‘insufficient evidence that criminal offences had been committed’. How does that tally with the election court’s findings? Detectives launched their investigation after Mr Rahman was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices. How can practices with such a description not be worthy of prosecution?
“The election court says Lutfur Rahman is guilty, but the CPS and the MPS say there is not enough evidence.”
Speaking on behalf of the Government, John Penrose, Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office said: “I understand that there are still investigations into grant fraud, for example, in parallel with the ongoing investigations into electoral fraud. They perhaps cannot be made public, but [Mr Fitzpatrick] might be able to get further reassurances.
“While many people might have expected a prosecution to be straightforward, clearly there are different standards of proof and different levels of admissibility for evidence. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service need to make a judgment, but he will want to investigate the individual cases and allegations to find out what can be pursued.”
He also added that Eric Pickles, for the former Communities Secretary who installed commissioners to oversee the work of Tower Hamlets Council, would shortly be issuing a report on electoral fraud having studied the Tower Hamlets example and talked to a number of insiders, including Isle of Dogs councillor Peter Golds.