High Court writ withdrawn against Returning Officer over Tower Hamlets election ‘mal practice’ claim

PUBLISHED: 12:39 02 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 02 February 2015

Returning Officer John Williams (right) signing Protocol for Tower Hamlets local elections in May, 2014

Returning Officer John Williams (right) signing Protocol for Tower Hamlets local elections in May, 2014

TH Council

Allegations against Tower Hamlets Election Returning Officer John Williams have been withdrawn at the High Court today.

Election petition... challenging control of Tower HamletsElection petition... challenging control of Tower Hamlets

A writ naming him claimed party agents had been “permitted to enter polling stations unlawfully and leave campaign materials in polling booths” during last May’s local council elections in London’s East End.

Petitioners who have begun proceedings against Mayor Lutfur Rahman for the polls to be declared void have withdrawn their action against the Town Hall’s returning officer.

“I have always maintained that those allegations were without foundation,” Mr Williams said.

“This was a hotly-contested election in challenging circumstances. I am politically neutral and pleased that the petitioners accept this election was conducted in accordance with the law.”

But the four petitioners who filed to get the May 22 election overturned and declared void, led by activist Andy Erlam, are going ahead with their action against Mayor Rahman himself.

They accuse the mayor’s followers of “casting votes in the name of people not entitled to vote” and “acquiring voting papers and casting them fraudulently”.

The hearing is expected to last four months, under the 1983 Representation of the People Act, being held in Court 38 of the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand “in neutral grounds” rather than Tower Hamlets itself.

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