Widespread allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets

Complaints come as a senior judge warns local elections present 'enormous opportunities' for vote rigging.

Electioneering in the London borough of Tower Hamlets has descended once more into bitter allegations of widespread postal fraud and vote harvesting.

Labour and Conservative councillors have both written to the Electoral Commission detailing instances where they believe postal fraud may have occurred. Residents in one block of flats in the area have also separately complained that volunteers have been knocking on their doors asking to post their votes on their behalf – something which is illegal under election rules.

The Electoral Commission has passed the allegations onto the Metropolitan Police who are investigating.

The complaints came as a senior judge who disqualified six councillors over a major voting fraud operation in Birmingham in 2005 warned that local elections still present “enormous opportunities” for vote rigging.

Judge Richard Mawrey told BBC Radio 4 today: “The sticking plaster approach hasn't worked. “Particularly in local elections, where a small number of votes will make a considerable difference, then the opportunities for fraud are enormous, the chances of detection very small, and a relatively modest amount of fraud will guarantee you win the election.”

There has long been concern about the ease with which postal ballots can applied for with few checks and balances although the Electoral Commission has repeatedly denied that the system is broken.

Tower Hamlets has seen an enormous increase over recent years in the number of residents applying to vote remotely. During the 2010 general elections The Independent revealed how many one and two bedroom flats in the area had as many as ten voters registered to their address, many of which were placed on the electoral register just weeks before the election.

Many of the complaints in 2010 were made by Conservative and Respect candidates against Labour councillors who vehemently denied the allegations stating that Tower Hamlets, one of the country’s poorest boroughs, simply had overcrowding issues. This time around six Labour councillors have called on the Electoral Commission to investigate "the unprecedented number of households that have that have recently signed up for postal votes."

Meanwhile Tory councillor Peter Gold has handed over his own dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission detailing a number of properties in the borough with a suspiciously high number of recently registered postal voters.

Tower Hamlets said council officials have conducted more than 4,000 extra visits to electors in the borough with the result that 890 voters were removed from the list.

A spokesperson said: “We also encourage residents to report any suspicious activity to us and to the Police - whose duty it is to investigate.However it is important not to confuse fraudulent activity with a register that changes by up to 20 per cent a month because we have a population that is highly mobile - our borough includes a high proportion of students and restaurant workers.  The council would support moves to improve and strengthen the law to make it harder to commit electoral fraud and will support the Police in its investigation. ”

The Respect party, which still has a strong presence in Tower Hamlets despite a poor showing at the last general election, said Labour's concern for voting fraud was "utterly hypocritical". "For eight years now we in Respect have been campaigning for an end to the postal vote on demand system. It is wide open to fraud and to voter intimidation," said Abjol Miah, national chair of Respect. "Although false voter registration is a problem, it is not nearly as significant a problem as voter intimidation. Postal votes on demand effectively means the end to the secret ballot. This is the indefensible system that Labour has consistently defended over the last eight years, in the face of our opposition. Labour should now change its tune and support an end to this iniquitous system."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn