William Eichler 10 March 2017

'Major failures' found in Tower Hamlets fraud investigation

Major failures found in Tower Hamlets fraud investigation image

Members of the London Assembly have accused the police of ‘major failings’ in their investigation of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets.

A report from the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee has called for an inquiry into the Met’s investigation of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets’ 2014 mayoral contest.

Steve O’Connell, chairman of the committee, said he was ‘shocked to uncover major failings’ by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation.

In 2015 the election commission ruled the previous year’s mayoral election in Tower Hamlets was void because then mayor Lutfur Rahman had breached election rules.

Government commissioners then took over the running of the council with powers being handed back as and when the communities secretary judged the authority to be ready.

The Assembly committee report said ‘more could have been done’ to investigate the allegations of fraud and malpractice in Tower Hamlets before and during the election.

It also found the investigations that did take place were not ‘undertaken to the highest possible standards’.

Important evidence was also missed by the Met, the committee found. A bundle of 27 files sent to the director of public prosecution was ‘not reviewed’ by police.

The committee said the Met could have ‘generated sufficient evidence’ to seek a criminal prosecution had they carried out a more thorough investigation.

‘During our investigation, we, as a committee, have been shocked to uncover major failings by the Metropolitan Police in its ability to investigate allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice,’ said Mr O’Connell.

‘Missed files of evidence; missed opportunities to gather witness statements; witnesses who were prepared to give evidence in the Election Court but were unwilling to do so in criminal proceedings – this is not what we expect from a supposedly world-leading police force.’

‘We urge the deputy mayor to use her powers to press for HMIC [Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary] to take the matter further, with the aim that eventually we can assure Londoners - and particularly residents in Tower Hamlets - that justice has been done,’ he added.

Responding to the committee’s report, mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: ‘Despite a High Court judge finding Lutfur Rahman and his colleagues guilty on multiple counts of corruption and electoral fraud, there is deep frustration that the process stopped without criminal charges.

‘On the basis of the evidence in the election court there were many leads to follow. Many people in Tower Hamlets are understandably mystified why those who tried so hard to steal the 2014 election have yet to be fully held to account.’

‘I welcome the Police and Crime Committee’s call for the HMIC to be called in to see what lessons can be learnt from this sorry saga.’

‘Thankfully electoral fraud is rare but where it does happen we need confidence that the police have the skills and motivation to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,’ he added.

Highways jobs

Assistant Director

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
£88,768
Looking for an Assistant Director for Commissioning and Partnerships based in our newly created Adults and Wellbeing Directorate. Calderdale, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Head of Culture and Tourism

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
£55,704 - £57,957
As part of the Tees Valley, Redcar and Cleveland, together with our neighbouring boroughs, will be bidding to become the City of Culture 2025. Redcar, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Economic Resilience Project Officer - Major Infrastructure

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£36,876 - £38,813
Exciting opportunity has arisen for exceptional project managers who want to play a leading role in reshaping our... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Executive Director of Children’s Services

Bi-Borough
Up to £165k
Enabling all children and young people to reach their full potential London (Greater)
Recuriter: Bi-Borough

Supported Lettings Officer

Ryedale District Council
£23,836 per annum
Following a successful bid as part of the governments Rapid Rehousing Initiative, Ryedale DC will provide a... North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Ryedale District Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The March issue of Local Government News explores alternative funding channels that are available to councils beyond the Public Works Loan Board, what hurdles merging councils face in coming together, and how local government is handling GDPR.

This issue also has a special highways and street lighting section exploring how councils can use lighting to embark on their smart city journey and using IoT technology to weather the storm.

Register for your free magazine