Police say ‘no evidence’ worth investigation in Pickles’s Tower Hamlets files

Local government secretary Eric Pickles

Local government secretary Eric Pickles - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Met police has announced today it will not be investigating Tower Hamlets Council after it found “no credible evidence of criminality” in files provided by the government.

The three files of material were passed to the Met by local government secretary Eric Pickles ahead of his wider investigation into allegations of “poor management and fraud” at the council.

A team of police officers have spent the past week reviewing the material, which it says was referred to the government by a member of the public and BBC Panorama, which recently investigated the mayor.

The Met says it has also liaised with auditors from Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP (PwC), who it said are “conducting a full and wide-ranging audit of financial matters” in the borough.

A statement from the Met said: “There is no credible evidence of criminality within the files to provide reasonable grounds to suspect that fraud or any other offence has been committed at this stage.

“Therefore the MPS will not be investigating at this point in time and believe that it is appropriate for the material to be reviewed further by PwC and DCLG [the department for communities and local government].”

“We will continue to liaise with them should their audit uncover any evidence of criminality.”

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The council welcomed the announcement, with a spokesman saying: “The news from the Metropolitan police is to be welcomed and Tower Hamlets will continue to work with the auditors and DCLG.”

The DCLG has declined to comment on the progress of its audit, but said: “A wide-ranging investigation of Tower Hamlets by Pricewaterhouse Coopers is ongoing.”

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “We continue to stand by the programme’s findings, which uncovered serious concerns about the use of public money, which are still being investigated by the government.

“Our programme did not say there was evidence of criminality. The allegations relate to potentially unlawful expenditure, not to a criminal matter.”

She added: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Metropolitan police were not investigating allegations made within the Panorama programme, and any such claims are misleading.”