A ‘magisterial’ court ruling against solicitor and former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman should give ‘conclusive weight’ to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as it decides whether to impose sanctions against the politician, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has claimed.
Rahman, who faces a four-day disciplinary hearing at the SDT, was ordered to vacate his position of mayor in 2015 after an election court found him guilty of illegal and corrupt practices.
The SRA subsequently charged Rahman with failing to uphold the rule of law and administration of justice, failing to act with integrity and failing to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services.
Representing the SRA, counsel Ed Levey said yesterday that the SDT should take account of the court’s findings when deciding on the merits of the case.
‘What you need to consider, is how much weight to apply to that judgment,’ Levey said. ‘We say the judgment gives conclusive weight to the allegations. This is a judgment that went into considerable detail and there is nothing to rebut it.’
Levey said the judgment stretched to more than 200 pages and there were 4,000 pages of transcripts of evidence. Further, the judgment was presided over by ‘one of the country’s most respected judges and advocates’ in Richard Mawrey. He added that, although it was a civil matter, the court applied the criminal standard of proof to ascertain Rahman’s guilt.
‘It’s obvious a huge amount of effort and thought has gone into this,’ he said.
Also yesterday, the tribunal heard from Deborah Cohen, formerly head of commissioning and strategy at Tower Hamlets, who gave evidence regarding a meeting she had with Rahman in which he noted organisations which would receive funding.
Rahman had claimed Cohen, who also gave evidence in the election court case, had lied about the meeting and that it never took place. However, the court determined Rahman’s allegations were false.
Levey said allowing Cohen to give evidence to the SDT gave further weight to the court’s findings so that they could hear from her first hand.
Earlier in the day Rahman failed to adjourn the hearing on the grounds that he could not find a representative and did not feel able to represent himself. He added that an application to amend a judicial review into the court’s findings was still pending.
Rahman, a family law specialist, is not present at the hearing. He denies the allegations. The hearing continues.