Journalism of Courage

Disgraced former mayor of London’s Tower Hamlets re-elected in greatest political comeback

After serving a five-year ban, becoming bankrupt and being barred from working as a solicitor, he returned to power in Tower Hamlets after winning last Thursday's vote to take back control of the £1.2 billion ($1.5bn) budget.

A disgraced mayor banned from office for five years for corruption has been re-elected to his old position after what his party described as “one of the greatest political comebacks in history”.

Lutfur Rahman, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was banned as the mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London in 2015 after a damning court judgment that found that he had falsely branded his main political opponent as racist and a string of other electoral offences.

After serving a five-year ban, becoming bankrupt and being barred from working as a solicitor, he returned to power in Tower Hamlets after winning last Thursday’s vote to take back control of the £1.2 billion ($1.5bn) budget.

The party he established, Aspire, also secured a majority on the local council. Its success has been built on the support of the largest Bangladeshi population in the United Kingdom.

On Friday, after being elected mayor, Mr Rahman urged people to “judge me on what we will do for you”.

Mr Rahman defeated the Labour Party’s incumbent John Biggs — the man he falsely accused of racism in 2014. Mr Rahman won 40,804 votes, with Mr Biggs on 33,487.

The Aspire party won 24 of the 45 seats on the council.

“Yesterday we achieved one of the greatest political comebacks in history,” said the party in a tweet. “There is still so much to accomplish. Lutfur Rahman and Aspire will not let you down.”

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