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#SLEAZE: Controversial Tower Hamlets leader in hot water…again

The controversial Sylhet-born Mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets is facing more charges of electoral fraud after his supporters allegedly posed as local council workers to canvas votes ahead of the mayoral elections in May.

Police launched an investigation after local residents claimed supporters of Lutfur Rahman had visited homes ostensibly to discuss problems faced by council housing tenants before presenting homeowners with a list of the mayor’s achievements.

An internal investigation by the local council found that the canvassers were not official representatives of the borough.

It’s not the first time Mr Rahman has been hit by allegations of wrong-doing.

In 2010 he was expelled from the Labour Party because of his close links to an extremist Muslim group the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) based at the East London Mosque.

He contested the mayoral elections of that year as an independent candidate and became the first directly appointed mayor of Tower Hamlets: a directly appointed mayor is different and carries with the office far more clout than the largely ceremonial role previously played by a Mayor.

Mr Rahman is said to have won the election on the back of a “large mobilization” of the electorate orchestrated by the IFE and the local Bangladeshi business community.

Earlier this year a Labour Party member of the Council alleged that Mr Rahman had begun “abusing public money” and “rewarding his supporters” in preparation for his re-election campaign in May.

Peter Golds MP said that Mr Rahman had effectively begun buying his re-election, adding that “this is a test for us all about whether democracy can be bought.”

A Daily Telegraph investigation revealed in January that a listed council-owned property had been sold at a knock-down price to a businessman with close links to Mr Rahman who had privately approved planning permission to convert the property into a hotel.

That despite planning law requiring a public hearing into the merits of a proposed conversion of a listed building.

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