SCORES of people are set to rally tonight in support of turfed-out Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman a day after Eric Pickles seized more control over the troubled London borough.
Mr Rahman was barred from office last week after a judge ruled he was corrupt and Tower Hamlets is now being run by his former deputy Oliur Rahman.
On Tuesday Lutfur Rahman announced his intention to appeal the ruling.
The former mayor’s powers over grants, contracts and electoral administration were transferred to central government commissioners in December, but now Communities Secretary Mr Pickles has beefed up their role to cover “the whole of the local authority, as the commissioners see fit.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government said that the commissioners would put a stop to destruction of hard copy and electronic documents.
Mr Pickles also appointed two new commissioners, including former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Chris Allison.
“Given the independent election court’s clear findings of corruption in the mayoral administration, there is a clear need for stronger checks and balances in the run up to the mayoral by-election, especially given many of the associates of the tainted mayor remain in place,” Mr Pickles said.
A by-election to replace Lutfur Rahman has already been called for June 11 and it is speculated that his ally Rabina Khan, a writer and council cabinet member, is likely to stand.
The rally at the Waterlily venue on Mile End Road will be addressed by Labour national executive member Christine Shawcroft, former Respect leader Salma Yaqoob and Unite chief of staff Andrew Murray.
And former London mayor Ken Livingstone has hit out at the decision to oust Mr Rahman, calling the High Court judge in the case “an unelected bureaucrat overturning the result of an election.”
And writing for the Guardian yesterday, former St Paul’s cathedral canon Giles Fraser questioned the legitimacy of the charge of “spiritual influence,” one of the counts on which Mr Rahman was indicted — last used against the Catholic church in 19th-century Ireland.
“If the Tory party can arrange for 5,000 small business leaders to say vote Tory, why can’t the imams organise a letter to say vote Rahman?” Mr Fraser asked.