Police probe intimidation claims after activist has restaurant and van attacked

By Rob Virtue on June 16, 2014 4:48 PM |

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A restaurant owner representing campaigners calling for a recount of the Tower Hamlets council elections has had a window at his property smashed and paint poured over his van.

The attack on Azmal Hussain's restaurant and vehicle came just a day after activists served Mayor Lutfur Rahman and returning officer John Williams with court notices.

The incidents took place in Brick Lane over the weekend and any connection between the attack and Mr Hussain's political activities is speculative at this stage.

Mr Hussain is a petitioner in the case. Fellow petitioner Andy Erlam said: "People can draw their own conclusions into whether this was linked to the petition but Azmal had not had trouble before.

"The incident happened on Saturday morning when he had customers in the restaurant. And then he saw the damage to the van which was parked nearby at around 1am or 2am the next morning.

"It's a nasty thing to happen to someone."

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A spokeswoman for the Met Police said: "The victim alleged to police when they attended on Sunday, 15 June that, sometime between midnight and 3am on Saturday, June 14, that paint had been poured over the side of his van at a court yard near the rear of a restaurant at Brick Lane, E1.

"The other incident relates to criminal damage to the window of a restaurant at Brick Lane, E1 the victim believes occurred at approximately 11am on Saturday, June 14.

"In both incidents no suspects were seen."

Police are looking into allegations the attack is linked to the petition, which is being brought by borough residents and raises concerns about last month's election.

Campaigners lodged papers with the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday and served notice with the Tower Hamlets mayor, the returning officer and the Department of Public Prosecutions that the petition had been presented.

The group have raised a number of concerns about the May election, including allegations of forged postal votes and intimidation towards voters at polling stations.

It wants the court to make an order to recount the vote or hold a second election.

In response to the petition, on Friday returning officer Mr Williams said: "The measures put in place to manage the May 2014 elections in Tower Hamlets were the toughest available within the limits of the current law and I have worked closely with the Electoral Commission and Metropolitan Police to combat fraud and investigate thoroughly any allegations that were made through our new dedicated reporting procedure."

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