East London politician and solicitor Lutfur Rahman is to be referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority by the electoral court which yesterday found him guilty of offences in connection with the Tower Hamlets mayoral election in 2014.
The election was declared void in a judgment by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC, sitting in the Queen's Bench Division.
Rahman was found guilty of offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 including electoral fraud, corrupt practices and of exerting undue influence by threat of spiritual injury.
Mawrey ruled that Rahman, whom he described as ‘ruthless’ and ‘dishonest’, should be barred from restanding for mayor.
Giving judgment in a case brought by petitioners Andrew Erlam, Debbie Simone, Azmal Hussein and Angela Moffat, Mawrey noted that Rahman, admitted in 1997, is a solicitor and that the court is obliged by the 1983 act to bring its judgment to the attention of the SRA.
He ordered that a copy of the judgment be sent to the SRA.
A spokesman for the SRA said: ‘We are awaiting the referral from the court to assess the information it has before deciding on the appropriate course of action.’
Mawrey also called for changes to election law, which is currently under Law Commission scrutiny. In particular, he described the petition system as obsolete.
'It is wholly unreasonable to leave it to defeated candidates or concerned electors, like the present petitioners, to undertake the arduous and extremely expensive task of bringing proceedings and pursuing them to a conclusion entirely at their own expense and with the risk of bankruptcy if they fail to surmount the Grand National-sized fences placed in the path of petitioners,' he said.
'We do not leave it to the victim of burglary or fraud (a fortiori the victim of rape) to bring civil proceedings against the perpetrator as the only way of achieving justice.
'Why do we leave it to the victims of electoral fraud to go it alone?'
Mawrey also noted that the four petitioners could not afford to engage solicitors and relied on representation from a single public-access barrister.