Police probe alleged intimidation at Tower Hamlets polling stations
PUBLISHED: 14:05 23 May 2014
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Police and local authority officials are looking into alleged intimidation outside polling stations and party leaflets left inside voting booths in yesterday’s elections at Tower Hamlets in London’s East End.
Political activists were reported gathering outside polling stations trying to influence people turning up to vote.
One voter claimed on Twitter that a leaflet handed out by Lutfur Rahman’s supporters showing people how to vote for the incumbent mayor was found inside a booth—which would be a breach of electoral law.
Tower Hamlets council was later investigating the incident.
“All staff are vigilant about unauthorised literature and regularly check booths as part of their role,” a Town Hall spokesman told the Advertiser.
“The council and Electoral Commission are satisfied this isolated incident of unauthorised literature in a polling booth was swiftly dealt with.”
Incidents have also been reported of activists milling outside polling stations intimidating voters as they arrive.
Police were at all 125 poling stations with orders to disburse any crowds gathering.
Police Insp Gary Anderson said: “Tower Hamlets is the only London borough where police were present at every polling station. This decision was taken in response to concerns raised by the community at the previous election.”
Agreement was reached by police with the local authority and the Electoral Commission for a presence to reassure voters about a fair election process which Mr Anderson said passed without major incident.
“Every incident raised to police where there was aggressive campaigning was dealt with by the presiding officers and police,” he insisted. “Any questionable literature was submitted to the Electoral Commission which has stated that all leaflets were campaign literature only.”
Police were out in force yesterday at all polling stations in the East End’s 20 voting wards, while officials inside were authorised to challenge voters they had suspicions about.
Verification of all voting papers has been completed. Now council staff have begun the count for election for Mayor being carried out at Stepney’s Troxy venue in Commercial Road, the result likely later today rather than lunchtime originally predicted.