Up to 15,000 votes in Tower Hamlets election were "fraudulent" allege petitioners

By Rob Virtue on July 16, 2014 4:46 PM |

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Claims up to 15,000 votes in the Tower Hamlets election were fraudulent are to be made in an upcoming High Court case.

A group of residents in the borough have been collecting "evidence of malpractice", which they hope to use to convince the court to investigate the May 22 vote.

One of the election petitioners Andy Erlam said: "Given the flood of information that has come to us, it appears as many as 10-15,000 votes counted were fraudulent.

"My impression from the evidence so far collected is that there was an industrial-scale operation in Tower Hamlets, the like of which I have never seen before even when an International Election Observer in Africa."

The allegations cover both the local and mayoral elections.

The group is also appealing for funds and is accusing the council of trying to bankrupt them by hiring an expensive law firm to challenge them, promising a lengthy and costly battle.

"It has been left to four ordinary voters with a wide range of party political views, and with limited means to put their heads on the chopping ‎block," added Mr Erlam.

Labour candidate Mr Biggs, who lost by 3,500 votes to Lutfur Rahman in the mayoral election, said he would support the campaign.

In an email to Mr Erlam he wrote: "I will do all that I can to ensure that the case is properly considered, including making statements, appearing as a witness as necessary, and working with your legal team, and I will do all that I can to ensure that it is, and to encourage others to support you."

However, he added Mayor Rahman's election should be "treated as the proper result unless and until it is proved otherwise".

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for the High Court on July 28, when the council is to argue there is no case to answer.

The council said it would contest the allegations.

A spokesman said: "The Returning Officer has already made clear that he cannot comment on the specifics of the election petition that pertains to his role as he is taking legal advice and will be responding as necessary to the court.

"Measures put in place to manage the May 2014 elections in Tower Hamlets were the toughest available within the limits of the current law. The Returning Officer 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.

"84 allegations of unlawful or corrupt practice were passed to the Police, who have confirmed that in most cases no evidence was found to support any further action but that they are currently investigating eight cases."