Britain's first elected Muslim mayor is 'a liar and perjurer' who used corruption, intimidation and fraud to win a second term, a court heard today.
Lutfur Rahman, who runs Tower Hamlets Council, 'subverted democracy' during a campaign last May characterised by bribery, 'ghost voting', smears and 'foul libel', the High Court heard.
One in three residents in the east London borough he represents are Muslim and ahead of last year's election they were told they would not be 'good Muslims' unless they voted for him, it is alleged.
One young voter was found crying outside a polling station having been told he would betray his religion if he did not back Rahman, the court heard.
Meanwhile a letter signed by 101 Islamic figures which was published in a Bengali newspaper said not voting for Rahman was an 'un-Islamic and a sinful act', it was claimed.
The 49-year-old politician is being investigated after local campaigners compiled a vast dossier of evidence showing his re-election was rigged.
Rahman won the poll, held on May 22 last year, with 51.8 per cent of the vote, after forming his own party, Tower Hamlets First, having been expelled by Labour.
Four residents, Andrew Erlam, Debbie Simone, Azmal Hussein and Angela Moffat, plan to call 100 witnesses to prove the election was rigged, after being granted a rare electoral trial.
If Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC finds allegations of corruption proved, he has the power to declare the election void and suspend Mayor Rahman.
Mayor Rahman and Tower Hamlets Council deny any wrongdoing, with his solicitor saying the claims are 'invention', 'exaggeration' and 'in some cases downright deliberately false allegations'.
Today Francis Hoar, for the petitioners, who were also political opponents, opened the seven-week trial.
Mr Hoar said his clients had 'reported threats of violence, threats to their families in Bangladesh, pressure from their employers and pressure from their communities'.
The barrister said witnesses 'know about Lutfur Rahman and they know how, almost one year ago, he subverted democracy to be re-elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets'.
'Since the beginning of his political career, he has been prepared to take whatever steps, use whatever means, recruit whatever support, to obtain power - power for himself, power for his friends and most importantly, power over his community.
'He know what the law is and his attempts to pretend otherwise during the case should fall on deaf ears.'
Mr Hoar related how Rahman was 'kicked out' of the Labour party in 2010
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