The MPS issued a new statement re election fraud in Tower Hamlets after former Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles has called for a reinvestigation after his own report into the issue concluded that authorities are turning a blind eye to corruption due to concerns over political correctness.
Sir Eric’s year long review was commissioned by David Cameron after the 2015 Tower Hamlets electoral fraud scandal. Among its conclusions is the observation that fraud may be overlooked because of “over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion”.
The review states that “politically correct sensibilities” meant that voting irregularities in Pakistani or Bangladeshi communities in particular often went uninvestigated. Tower Hamlets in East London is among the most ethnically diverse constituencies in the country.
The police found ”insufficient evidence“ that any criminal offences were committed.
Read the statement below.
The MPS is disappointed that Sir Eric Pickles has expressed such views in relation to no prosecutions being brought for alleged election offences in Tower Hamlets.
Detectives from the Special Enquiry Team carried out a number of investigations and reviews before, during and after the Election Petition Hearing. 204 allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice were investigated in 2014; 164 related to Tower Hamlets.
Working very closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, extensive efforts were made by the MPS to obtain evidence that would be considered admissible in any criminal prosecution and witnesses who could support a criminal prosecution.
There are important differences in the legal framework that governs the admissibility of evidence to an election petition hearing and a criminal prosecution. The MPS must also demonstrate to the CPS that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in a criminal court.
Due to the specialist and complex nature of the legislation, the MPS worked closely with and sought advice at a number of investigative stages from the specialist team within the CPS.
The suggestion that the MPS has somehow failed to take action is completely unfounded. We must work within the legislative framework set by Government.
Free and democratic elections where all Londoners can cast their vote without concern are vitally important. The MPS has worked closely with Returning Officers, Local Authorities and the Electoral Commission to support this. The MPS is committed to fully playing our part to enable this to happen.
We welcome consideration of any measures that support Returning Officers and the Police in ensuring that elections can take place without undue interference in the democratic process.
We learnt a number of lessons from the Mayoral Election in 2014, following a full review with the Returning Officer and Local Authority. This resulted in a new plan for the elections in 2015, which led to significant reductions both in public concern and complaints to police, with not one allegation received regarding the Mayoral election.
The MPS is happy to share our learning from these investigations with any relevant body considering changes to the process. We will be writing directly to Sir Eric with our concerns about the report, and to offer a briefing on the extent of our investigations.
Source: Met Police