The official police watchdog is to launch an inquiry into the Metropolitan police’s handling of electoral fraud and malpractice allegations in Tower Hamlets.
Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for policing has called in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to look at “major failings” in the investigation of the scandal-hit borough mayor race in 2014.
Tower Hamlets independent mayor Lutfur Rahman was forced to quit in 2015 after an Election Court found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices, but has faced no criminal prosecution. He is now attempting to make a comeback before next year’s elections under the banner of a new party.
Deputy mayor Sophie Linden, who has the legal power to initiate an investigation, wrote to HMIC today. In a letter seen by the Standard, she said: “It is right, particularly in cases such as these, that there is no political pressure whatsoever applied to the police and that they should be able to carry out their investigations, which are ongoing, without fear or favour.
“That said, I am keen to ensure the investigations can command the trust and confidence of Londoners and particularly residents of Tower Hamlets, who are keen to see the integrity of the democratic process robustly secured.
“The public need to have the highest level of confidence that any and all criminal prosecutions have been considered and pursued.” City Hall sources said Ms Linden had decided to take act-ion because of mounting concern over the police investigation. Earlier this month the London Assembly said the Met should be investigated over “major failings” in the case, accusing it of missing opportunities in its enquiries.
The Assembly’s police and crime committee claimed more could have been done to examine the allegations and that investigations that did take place were not undertaken to the highest standards. The Met has also been ac-cused of taking a political decision not to pursue Mr Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First councillors because they were afraid of getting involved in a sensitive political situation.
A government-commissioned report last year, by former local government minister Eric Pickles, suggested political correctness may have been partially to blame for what he described as a lack of action by the Met to pursue those suspected of wrongdoing.