The Metropolitan Police Service has today issued a statement confirming that it is not launching an investigation into fraud in Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Town Hall – because the allegations of fraud made to date are not accompanied by any credible evidence.
On 4th April, the day they sent in government inspectors to check financial and other procedures in the Council, the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) sent three files of material to the Met Police. The police say that the files contained material which had been given to the DCLG by Panorama and by “a member of the public”. The identity of the “member of the public” has not been disclosed, and nor has it been made clear whether the mystery individual had been working in tandem with Panorama or had made a separate report to the DCLG.
The police have stated that they have spent the last six days reviewing the files. Their conclusion is that the files do not contain any “credible evidence” to “provide reasonable grounds to suspect that fraud or any other offence has been committed”. This leaves both Panorama and Eric Pickles with problems – and questions to answer
The files must have contained the “best” information Panorama had. If the police can’t find anything worth investigating in the files, how can John Ware justify the tone of the programme?
When Panorama handed their evidence to Eric Pickles, he said he would look at it and if there was some substance to it he would consider sending inspectors into the Council. He did send in the inspectors, so he must have found something in the files to justify this extremely unusual action. What, in three files of no “credible evidence”, justified sending in the inspectors?
If the facts in the files don’t bear out the tone of the programme and the sending in of inspectors, more credibility would be given to the theory that the programme and resulting report to Pickles were party political moves, aimed at raising allegations about Mayor Rahman which would not be answered until after the coming election.
This tactic is extremely similar to the tactic which saw the then Cllr Lutfur Rahman removed as the Labour Party’s candidate in the 2010 election. A dossier of allegations was sent to the national Labour Party which could not be properly investigated until nomination of candidates closed: so Cllr Rahman was removed as the Labour candidate. Now, a dossier of allegations has been sent to the Government (via Panorama), and it cannot be properly investigated until after the elections. The allegation that there has been fraud is likely to stick until the final report is issued. If this is the aim of Rahman’s accusers, the police may have ruined the game plan by reporting early.
It’s not all over yet, of course. As the Met Police Statement says, Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP is “conducting a full and wide-ranging audit of financial matters at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.” They are due to report at the end of June.
Statement made by the Metropolitan Police
Update following BBC Panorama on London Borough of Tower Hamlets
On Friday 4 April 2014 the Metropolitan Police Service received three files of material from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) relating to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. These comprised of material referred to the DCLG by a member of the public and by the BBC Panorama programme.
The files have been reviewed by a team of officers over the past 6 days. In addition, officers have liaised with Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP (PwC) who are conducting a full and wide-ranging audit of financial matters at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
There is no credible evidence of criminality within the files to provide reasonable grounds to suspect that fraud or any other offence has been committed at this stage. Therefore the MPS will not be investigating at this point in time and believe that it is appropriate for the material to be reviewed further by PwC and DCLG. We will continue to liaise with them should their audit uncover any evidence of criminality.