A new outbreak of voting fraud is underway this week in the London borough whose elected mayor was dismissed by a High Court judge for corruption and vote-rigging.
Postal ballot papers for Thursday’s general election have been sent out to a block of flats in Tower Hamlets which has been a building site for months, council records seen by the Telegraph confirm.
The property – owned by Tower Hamlets council – is completely boarded up, surrounded by hoardings and without any sign of habitation.However, letters can still be delivered there. None of the people who supposedly applied for the votes lives at the property and at least one is dead.
Tower Hamlets’ mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was disqualified from office for five years by an election court last month after a judge ruled him guilty of lying about his opponent, buying votes with council grants and registering “ghost voters” – fake voters at places where they did not live. There is no evidence linking the new fraud to Mr Rahman.
Rene Mugenzi, candidate for the Red Flag Anti Corruption party at Thursday’s election, said: “I am very shocked that after the devastating judgment in the election case that fraudulent votes continue to be registered under our noses.”
Peter Golds, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “There is no way this could have been done innocently. You have to apply separately for each election, put your address on the form and certify that you live at the property, but this block has been a construction site for a while.”
The block concerned, Radford House in St Leonard’s Road, Poplar, has 17 voters registered to it, none of whom live there. Five appear on the council’s list as having applied for postal votes, though the records suggest that only three ballot papers have been sent out. It is not known whether the ballot papers have yet been returned.
The development comes as police announced they would launch a fresh criminal investigation into Mr Rahman’s activities following “new material” in the 200-page finding by the election judge, Richard Mawrey QC.
A “special inquiry team” has been set up and has been granted an extension to the normal one-year limit to bring criminal proceedings on electoral matters.
It can also be revealed that one of Mr Rahman’s council candidates at the election repeatedly praised Adolf Hitler on social media. Ahad Miah posted a “salute to Hitler the great,” quoting him as saying: “I would have killed all the Jews of the world, but I kept some to show the world why I killed them.”
Mr Miah remains a governor of a state infant school in Tower Hamlets, Blue Gate Fields. He is also a member of the management board at the St Hilda’s East Community Centre, which receives substantial funding from the council, and was a guest on a publicly-funded “interfaith weekend” in Suffolk last month paid for by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Golds said: “How can somebody who promotes such reprehensible views possibly remain a governor in a maintained school?”
Mr Rahman, originally the Labour council leader, was expelled from the party after the Telegraph revealed his close links with an Islamic extremist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
He was re-elected as an independent by 3,500 votes in May last year but was stripped of office after the judge ruled that he had “driven a coach and horses” through electoral law.
Branding Mr Rahman “corrupt,” “dishonest” and “ruthless,” Mr Mawrey said he had orchestrated a campaign of lies against his main opponent, Labour’s John Biggs, had abused the council grants system to buy votes and at least three of his own candidates had themselves registered to vote at fake addresses. Evidence from the Telegraph played a key part in his conviction.
At a rally for supporters in Tower Hamlets last week, Mr Rahman claimed that the verdict was based on “smears” and appealed for funds to pay his legal bills, estimated at £1.2 million. “I may have fallen, but I am not broken,” he said. He was considering a challenge to the judgment, he added.
He anointed a former member of his council cabinet, Rabina Khan, to stand at the mayoral byelection due next month. Ms Khan insisted she would not be Mr Rahman’s “puppet.”
In the judgment, Mr Mawrey said he wished he had been able to disqualify her and all Mr Rahman’s other councillors from office too, but did not have the legal power to do so since no case was brought against them.
Mr Rahman was joined on the platform by Andrew Murray, the chief of staff of the Unite union, Labour’s biggest donor, who read out an official statement of support from Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey.
Mr Murray said the judgment was a work of “unabashed megalomania by a preening puppet of the Establishment” and “part of the Establishment’s attack on the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of British Muslims.”
A member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, Christine Shawcroft, also spoke against the judgment, which she called “subjective, meaningless drivel.” Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayoral candidate, sent a video message of support.
The executive editor of the Conservative Home website, Mark Wallace, said the support for Mr Rahman by senior Labour figures was “deeply disturbing” and called on the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, to rebuke them.