Britain's first elected Muslim mayor described the four voters who have accused him of rigging the ballot as “sore losers” and denied smearing his main rival as racist.
Lutfur Rahman, the independent mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London, told the High Court he had a “lot of respect for checks and balances” and denied any wrongdoing in the May 2014 election which saw him voted in for a second term.
The four voters have taken legal action against Mr Rahman and asked Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey – who is sitting as a judge at the trial – to declare the result void and order a re-run.
Lawyers for the group have made allegations including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations, and ballot-paper tampering.
During cross-examination Mr Rahman said his accusers were “sore losers”, adding that he always got allegations but “nothing has been proved”.
Mr Rahman said he had been selected by “more than a majority” of Labour members to be the party’s 2010 candidate for mayor in Tower Hamlets, but they had “taken the nomination” from him, unfairly in his eyes.
“I did not leave the Labour Party, the Labour Party left me,” he told the court, adding that he had gone on to form a new political party prior to the 2014 election called Tower Hamlets First (THF).
Describing it as a “loose group of people”, he said it had been created after a meeting at a private house, mainly from former members of the Labour Party. While his name had been “used as leader” he said he had “delegated the responsibility” for the procedural formation of the party to his colleague and Tower Hamlet’s Council cabinet member for resources, Alibor Choudhury.
Mr Rahman told the court that THF did not have “a membership”. “Our members are the councillors and candidates who stood [at the 2014 council poll]. “We ... did all we could to the best of our ability.”
Mr Rahman said there were “records” which Mr Choudhury kept at his home, which was also the registered address of THF, adding that he had “full confidence in Councillor Choudhury”, who also denies wrongdoing.
He denied labelling his Labour rival John Biggs racist, saying: “I did not instigate a campaign to call my rival a racist.”
The trial, which started earlier this month, is expected to end in March.Reuse content