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Tower Hamlets responds to electoral malpractice claims

The Metropolitan Police has stated that following a “thorough” assessment of complaints about electoral malpractice in relation to the borough of Tower Hamlets there is “no evidence that any criminal offences have been committed”.

The borough was facing an investigation by the Electoral Commission after local election vote counting took five days to reach completion, and it was confirmed the Specialist Crime and Operations Directorate received a total of 84 complaints about electoral malpractice.

A number of complaints received related to the alleged behaviour of campaigners at polling stations in Tower Hamlets on 22 May and these are currently still being assessed.

However, there are currently only eight investigations ongoing in relation to Tower Hamlets. These refer to one allegation of failing to put a correct imprint on election literature; one of making a false statement about a candidate; four of false declarations on nomination papers; and two relating to postal voting. Two arrests have been made in connection with these ongoing investigations, the Met stated.

John Williams, returning officer at Tower Hamlets Council, said: “We have worked closely with the police to respond quickly to all allegations received in accordance with our local protocol and refer issues for investigation where necessary. 

“We welcome the thoroughness of the police investigation into complaints about the 2014 borough elections. We note that whilst 84 complaints have been referred to the police only eight of the complaints merit an investigation as in the majority of cases there is no evidence that any criminal offences have been committed.”

He added that: “the Returning Officer is separately looking into a number of complaints which, while not alleging a criminal offence, could represent a breach of the Tower Hamlets Local Protocol and any concerns will be discussed with the election agents and candidates ahead of the pending Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward election.”

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