Allegations of corruption in Tower Hamlets have reached the High Court. A petition accusing mayor Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets returning officer John Williams of various counts electoral fraud was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions on Wednesday.
The petition claims that votes were cast in names of people not entitled to be on the electoral register, that postal votes were rigged, and that supporters of Rahman’s party Tower Hamlets First were inside polling stations canvassing for votes and even accompanying voters into polling booths. (You can read the entire document on Ted Jeory’s website.) These allegations were being aired in the days immediately after the election, and there was enough concern about voter intimidation before the election that police were stationed at each Tower Hamlets polling station. That move followed an Electoral Commission report earlier this year that identified the borough as being at higher risk of alleged fraud.
Despite the history and allegations from election day all parties accepted the (long, drawn out) results. However, the people behind the petition — Andy Erlam, who stood for the Red-Flag Anti Corruption Party in Bow East, Debbie Simone, who stood for Labour in Canary Wharf, Azmel Hussain and Angela Moffat — are clearly determined not to let it lie. As Tim Donovan explains in this BBC video, the petitioners have 28 days to seek a hearing with a judge, who could decide to have the votes re-counted or even the election re-run. The latter is the result called for in the petition.
Police are also investigating allegations that one Tower Hamlets First candidate stood unsuccessfully in St Peter’s ward and is now running in the Blackwall and Cubitt Town by-election under a different name. The candidate is accused of giving false addresses both times. This is in addition to other investigations over postal voting, false declarations on nomination papers, election literature and making a false statement about a candidate. The Electoral Commission is also looking into what happened during the count.