Evening Standard apologises over electoral fraud allegations

The London Evening Standard newspaper has apologised to a senior figure in Tower Hamlets council’s legal department after wrongly accusing her of concealing electoral fraud in the borough.

The Standard carried a story on May 2, days before the London Mayoral election, which contained allegations against Isabella Freeman, the council’s assistant chief executive (legal services) and monitoring officer.

The article sugested Ms Freeman had shown a lack of care over the possibility of election fraud in the borough, and had even deliberately covered up malpractice.

However, the newspaper has since provided a full retraction. Its apology read: “We accept that those allegations were untrue and any suggestion that Isabella Freeman had not overseen the correct procedures was wrong.

“She has, in fact, taken steps so that the council has the most robust systems and processes permitted within electoral law to ensure the integrity of the electoral register and identify any malpractice.”

The allegations had triggered a furious reaction from senior council figures and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, welcomed the newspaper’s eventual apology.

Writing on his blog, he said: “Isobella Freeman has rightly been vindicated of all of the claims made by the Evening Standard. I am delighted that the newspaper has been obliged to apologise, although this will do little to undo the personal damage it has already caused.”