Calls for vote fraud clampdown in Tower Hamlets follow watchdog report

PUBLISHED: 12:32 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:32 27 March 2013

The Electoral Commission has said trust needs to be restored among voters in Tower Hamlets. File picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Electoral Commission has said trust needs to be restored among voters in Tower Hamlets. File picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Calls for a clampdown on voter fraud in Tower Hamlets have followed a watchdog's report calling for action to "restore trust and confidence" in elections.

The Electoral Commission and police were called in after scores of allegations of postal vote scams in the controversial Spitalfields by-election, which independent candidate Cllr Gulam Robbani won by 43 votes in May last year.

Detectives investigated 64 cases, including reports a dead person had cast a ballot in the election, but no prosecutions were brought, the Commission said today.

Its report highlighted a “breakdown of trust” between senior election officials and some councillors as well as “scepticism” about the Metropolitan Police inquiry into allegations.

Tory group leader Cllr Peter Golds called for police to set up a specialist unit to clamp down on electoral fraud.

“The Met must accept the concerns of voters and take action to properly police electoral malpractice”, he said.

“The fact that the electoral commission make such firm recommendations show how they appear to share local concern about the integrity of the electoral process.

“Now both local officials and the police need to work on this and not dismiss concerns out of hand, as has been so common in the past. Both need to regain the confidence of the public in the electoral process in this borough.”

Tower Hamlets Labour group - whose candidate was beaten in last year’s by-election - welcomed the Commission’s report.

Outgoing group leader Cllr Joshua Peck said: “Hopefully the Electoral Commission’s report will be a wakeup call for the council and that their recommendations will be implemented in full to prevent any future abuse of the electoral system in Tower Hamlets.”

A council spokesperson acknowledged the “unfounded allegations” had been damaging to trust in local politics in the borough.

“We will take on board the Commission’s recommendations and continue to do everything we can to continue to ensure the integrity of the electoral register in our borough”, she added.

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