Directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets

"Mayor of Tower Hamlets" redirects here. For civic mayors, see List of mayors of Tower Hamlets.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets
John Biggs

since 11 June 2015
Style No courtesy title or style
Appointer Electorate of Tower Hamlets
Term length Four years
Inaugural holder Luftur Rahman
Formation May 2010 referendum

The directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets is a directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets London Borough Council in east London, England. The first election for this position occurred on 21 October 2010, taking on the executive function of the borough council. The position is different from the previous largely ceremonial, annually appointed mayors of Tower Hamlets, who became known as the 'Chair of Council' after the first election and are now known as the 'Speaker of Council'.[1] The second election was held on 22 May 2014, the same day as the Tower Hamlets Council election, other United Kingdom local elections, and European Parliament elections, but the election result was declared void by the election court. A by-election was held on 11 June 2015.


The proposal to change the status of the borough from one with a leader and cabinet to one with an executive mayor was initially opposed by all the main political parties and was an initiative only proposed and supported by the Respect Party. Respect and Islamic Forum Europe organised a petition to trigger a referendum for this change.[2] Council officers stated that almost half the signatures were invalid, with entire pages bearing the same handwriting. Despite the flaws in the petition, there were sufficient valid signatures for the council to accept it, and a referendum was held on 6 May 2010 simultaneously with the voting in the United Kingdom general election. The referendum was passed after an intensive campaign.[2]

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Referendum
6 May 2010
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Elected Mayor 60,758 60.3
Cabinet System 39,857 39.7
Total votes 100,615 100.00

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph on 17 October, Andrew Gilligan represented the forthcoming election as the first big test for the recently elected Labour leader Ed Miliband, given the possibility of an independent candidate defeating the official Labour candidate in a strong Labour borough. Gilligan also said that it raised concerns over the political power of radical Islam in the UK, because of candidate Luftur Rahman's connections with Islamic Forum Europe. The latter, along with local business interests which had supported the petition and referendum to have a mayor, prominently backed Rahman's campaign.[2] Labour's former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, also campaigned in support of Rahman, in breach of Labour Party rules.[3]



The first election took place on Thursday 21 October 2010, with a 25.6 per cent turn out.[4] The new mayor officially took office on Monday 25 October 2010.[5]

Tower Hamlets mayoral election 21 October 2010 [4]
Party Candidate 1st Round % 2nd Round Total  First Round Votes  Transfer Votes 
Independent Lutfur Rahman 23,283 51.8%
Labour Helal Uddin Abbas 11,254 25.0%
Conservative Neil King 5,348 11.9%
Liberal Democrat John Griffiths 2,800 6.2%
Green Alan Duffell 2,300 5.1%
Turnout 44985 25.6
Independent win


In April 2015, this election was declared void by an election court.[6]

Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election 22 May 2014 (since declared void by an election court[7]) [8]
Party Candidate 1st Round % 2nd Round Total  First Round Votes  Transfer Votes 
Tower Hamlets First Lutfur Rahman 36,539 43.38% 856 37,395
Labour John Biggs 27,643 32.82% 6,500 34,143
Conservative Christopher Wilford 7,173 8.52%
UKIP Nicholas McQueen 4,819 5.72%
Green Chris Smith 4,699 5.58%
Liberal Democrat Reetendra Banerji 1,959 2.33%
TUSC Hugo Pierre 871 1.03%
Independent Reza Choudhury 205 0.24%
Independent Mohammed Khan 164 0.19%
Independent Hafiz Kadir 162 0.19%
Turnout 84,234 47.58%
Void election result Swing

2015 by-election

After the 2014 election was declared void, a new election was held on 11 June 2015.[6][7][9][10]

Tower Hamlets mayor election, 2015[11]
Party Candidate 1st Round % 2nd Round Total  First Round Votes  Transfer Votes 
Labour John Biggs[12] 27,255 40.00% 5,499 32,754
Independent Rabina Khan[13] 25,763 37.81% 621 26,384
Conservative Peter Golds 5,940 8.72%
Green John Foster[14] 2,678 3.93%
Liberal Democrat Elaine Bagshaw 2,152 3.16%
Red Flag Anti-Corruption Andy Erlam 1,768 2.59%
UKIP Nicholas McQueen 1,669 2.45%
Independent Hafiz Kadir 316 0.46%
Animal Welfare Party Vanessa Hudson 305 0.45%
Independent Md. Motiur Rahman Nanu 292 0.43%

Councillor Rabina Khan initially announced that she would stand as the Tower Hamlets First candidate.[15] However, as a result of findings in the election court case against Luftur Rahman, Tower Hamlets First was removed from the register of political parties by the Electoral Commission as the party was not operating a responsible financial scheme and the running of the party did not follow the documentation given in the party’s registration.[16][17] Khan subsequently said she would stand as an independent candidate.

Andy Erlam is a writer and film-maker who led the legal action against Rahman which resulted in the previous election being declared void. He previously stood as a Parliamentary candidate for Labour.[18]

Liberal Democrat Elaine Bagshaw and UKIP candidate Nicholas McQueen both stood for their respective parties in Poplar and Limehouse at the 2015 general election.

List of elected mayors

Political party Name Entered office Left office


Lutfur Rahman 25 October 2010 23 April 2015
Tower Hamlets First
Labour Party John Biggs 12 June 2015


  1. "Tower Hamlets Speaker of Council". Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Gilligan, Andrew (17 October 2010). "Tower Hamlets extremist vote poses Ed Miliband's first big election test". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  3. "Ken Livingstone campaigning for non-Labour candidate". BBC News. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  4. 1 2 "Mayoral election result, 21 October 2010". Tower Hamlets London Borough Council. October 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  5. "Council boss in charge until new Tower Hamlets mayor takes charge on Monday". East London Advertiser. 21 October 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  6. 1 2 "Tower Hamlets election fraud mayor Lutfur Rahman removed from office". BBC. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  7. 1 2 Richard Mawrey QC (23 April 2015). "In the matter of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and in the matter of a Mayoral Election for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014" (PDF). High Court of Justice. M/350/14. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  8. "Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election – Thursday, 22nd May, 2014". Tower Hamlets Council. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  9. "Election results for Tower Hamlets". Tower Hamlets Council. 2015-06-11. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  10. Sebastian Mann (2015-04-25). "Lutfur Rahman: Labour selects John Biggs to stand in re-run Tower Hamlets election". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  11. Lauren Rickard (5 May 2015). "Rabina Khan to stand as 'independent candidate' in re-run Tower Hamlets mayoral election". Eastlondonlines. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  12. Tower Hamlets Green Party,
  13. Mike Brooke (1 May 2015). "Rabina Khan takes on fight for sacked mayor Rahman for Tower Hamlets re-run election". Docklands and East London Advertiser. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  14. Mike Brooke (29 April 2015). "Rahman's 'Tower Hamlets First' is removed from Electoral Commission's party register". Docklands and East London Advertiser. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  15. "Media statement on removal of Tower Hamlets First from the Electoral Commission's register of political parties". Electoral Commission. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  16. Press Association (2015-04-26). "Leader of legal fight against Tower Hamlets mayor to run for office". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
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