Met accused of ‘major failings’ in probing Tower Hamlets corruption scandal

The London Metropolitan Police has been accused of “major failings” in investigating election corruption by the Tower Hamlets mayor, as the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee called for a new review into the police’s investigation.

The committee believes that more could have been done to investigate allegations of malpractice before and during the election, adding that the review was not “undertaken to the highest possible standards”.

The original investigation looked into election corruption that saw then mayor Lutfur Rahman found guilty of corrupt election practices, but the committee has now claimed that better investigating could have led to a criminal conviction for Rahman and others involved. 

Earlier this year, it was reported that Tower Hamlets had been returned its grant-making powers for not-for-profit organisations, signalling the authority being slowly given back powers that had previously been taken away by DCLG after the discovery of corruption.

It is also believed that evidence was missed in the Met’s investigation, after it was revealed that a bundle of 27 files that may have revealed further details of corruption were not reviewed.

In a letter, which recommends the deputy mayor for policing requests a fresh investigation into the Met Police by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), it was also said that had the investigation been carried out more expeditiously, there could have been enough evidence to prosecute.

Steve O’Connell AM, chairman of the Police and Crime Committee, said that his organisation had been “shocked” at the major failings by the Met in investigating the allegations.

“Missed files of evidence; missed opportunities to gather witness statements; witnesses who were prepared to give evidence in the Election Court but were unwilling to do so in criminal proceedings – this is not what we expect from a supposedly world-leading police force,” he explained.

“We urge the deputy mayor to use her powers to press for HMIC to take the matter further, with the aim that eventually we can assure Londoners – and particularly residents in Tower Hamlets – that justice has been done.”

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