Official investigation underway into potential fraudulent canvassing allegations
Labour have raised further questions about Lutfur Rahman's campaign for re-election as Mayor of Tower Hamlets after two weeks of Rahman refusing to answer serious questions about allegations of fraud by his re-election team. Labour highlighted that Rahman has only ever made one declaration to the Electoral Commission even though they estimate he has spent many tens of thousands of pounds on his re-election campaign thus far.
One event, an Iftar gathering on 1st August hosted at WaterLily banqueting hall, saw Rahman fund and host a lavish dinner for over a thousand local people, including campaign 'goodie bags' for every attendee. The event was then followed with a full page advert placed in many of the Bengali newspapers advertising the Iftar gathering and Lutfur Rahman's 'achievements'. Estimates at the time put the cost at around £30,000 the source of which has never been declared.
The concern about where Lutfur Rahman's money comes from follows only two weeks after an official investigation was launched into allegations of serious electoral misconduct which Rahman refused to deny. The allegations included a charge that the Rahman campaign was employing teams of political canvassers who were impersonating staff from Tower Hamlets Homes, the borough's Council housing arm. It was also alleged that these canvassers were paid the London Living Wage, an expense costing tens of thousands of pounds which would be well beyond even the big established political parties.
Councillors set out a number of clear questions which Rahman needed to answer but he has still refused to do so. The allegations included concerns that Rahman is abusing tax payer funds for personal political gain by using the Council to issue thousands of banned personally branded letters and allowing campaign staff to operate out of council facilities.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rachael Saunders, said:
"Lutfur Rahman is already spending heavily on his re-election campaign but with so many genuine concerns about his tactics voters will demand to know where his money is coming from. Without transparency about who is funding the Rahman’s extravagant campaign people will wonder what he has to hide.
" Its high time Lutfur Rahman comes out of his bunker and starts answering these important questions about his re-election campaign. If he has nothing to hide why hasn't he been straight with people. The questions we asked are simple. Why is it taking so for him to come up with any real answers?
“Instead he has sat silent for over two weeks apart from creating a smokescreen by denying something he hasn’t been accused of."