Tower Hamlets: Man arrested on suspicion of electoral malpractice


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The Independent Online

A 24-year-man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud as part of an investigation into eight allegations of electoral malpractice over the bitter Tower Hamlets local elections last month, police revealed today.

The Metropolitan Police Service also confirmed that officers from its Specialist Crime and Operations Directorate received 84 complaints amid widespread concern that the hard-fought campaign local election campaign in controversial borough had been marred by voter intimidation and electoral fraud.

Scotland Yard confirmed that four allegations relate to false declarations on nomination papers, two relate to postal voting, one relates to making a false statement about a candidate and one concerns a failure to put a correct imprint on election literature.

It also emerged on Wednesday that a second man, 38, was arrested prior to the election on 13 May. He was detained on suspicion of making false declarations on a nominations form and has since been bailed.

However the MPS added that for the “majority” of the complaints received there is no evidence of criminal activity in relation to the elections.

A Met police spokesman said: “A number of complaints received relate to alleged behaviour of campaigners at polling stations in Tower Hamlets on 22 May and these are currently being assessed in conjunction with our partners.

”There was a strong police prescience on polling day with an officer posted to each polling station on the borough.”

The announcement comes two weeks after the campaign, which saw controversial Mayor Lutfur Rahman win a second term in office, amid accusations of ethnicity-based politics in the deprived borough.

Earlier in the day London Mayor Boris Johnson had told a caller to his LBC Radio show that “everybody had been a bit concerned about allegations about some of the irregularities in voting in Tower Hamlets”.

He added: “These people, if they take that attitude, if they are going to base politics on race then they will lose… I think it's hugely important. We've got to be absolutely clear that nothing took place in Tower Hamlets that could cast doubts on the rightness and propriety of that result.”

John Williams, returning officer at Tower Hamlets Council said: “We have worked closely with the police to respond quickly to all allegations received in accordance with our local protocol and refer issues for investigation where necessary.  We welcome the thoroughness of the police investigation into complaints about the 2014 borough elections. We note that whilst 84 complaints have been referred to the police only eight of the complaints merit an investigation as in the majority of cases there is no evidence that any criminal offences have been committed.”