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Probe into ‘fraudulent’ vote canvassers endorsed by Tower Hamlets Council

PUBLISHED: 15:16 29 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:16 29 November 2013

Lutfur Rahman

Lutfur Rahman

Archant

An investigation into claims of fraudulent vote canvassing has been endorsed by Tower Hamlets Council after nearly an hour of fierce debate.

The investigation follows reports on the blog LoveWapping of people claiming to be from Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) allegedly knocking on doors and campaigning for the re-election of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The council voted 29 to 12 at Wednesday’s (November 27) full council meeting to support and co-operate fully with THH and the police to get to the bottom of the reports, which include people in suits visiting residents with the mayor’s re-election leaflets.

The vote was prompted by an emergency motion from Labour Cllr Rachel Saunders, who asked the mayor several questions including whether he employs canvassers and if so how they are paid.

The mayor remained silent throughout the debate and refused to comment or respond to the allegations and reports.

Cllr Kabir Ahmed, an independent Cllr and supporter of the mayor, at one point asked: “Is this a meeting of full council or an inquisition?”

Labour Cllr Bill Turner called the mayor’s refusal to speak “bizarre”, while Cllr Denise Jones, also from Labour, said: “If you’re not going to talk to us, will you at least write to us?”

Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said after the meeting: “What we got was the spectacle of a silent mayor refusing to deny serious allegations of abuse of public funds and fraudulent activity by his campaigners.”

John Biggs, Labour’s candidate for Tower Hamlets mayor, said Mr Rahman’s silence was “an insult to the people of Tower Hamlets”.

He said: “If the allegations aren’t true, why didn’t he deny them?”

A council spokesman said: “Like all authorities, Tower Hamlets has robust policies in place to ensure that the work of officers is conducted with political neutrality.

“All council motions will be progressed in the appropriate manner.”


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