The Mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, may have benefited from “industrial scale” fraud, according to evidence submitted by his Labour Party opponent John Biggs.
Biggs, who was initially magnanimous in his defeat, is now contributing to an investigation into the shambolic elections that took place in East London earlier this year, wherein the extremist-linked Rahman narrowly scrapped a victory to secure a second term.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Biggs “said he and party colleagues had seen a number of ballot papers at the count where a vote for him, or candidates supporting him, had been crossed out and a different vote written in.”
He added that there was a “considerable amount of election fraud, principally centred around the manipulation of postal votes” and said there were “very significant doubts about the integrity of the ballot”.
Breitbart London attended a number of polling stations on the day of the election in March of this year, wherein numerous rules were being breached. We reported that campaigners on behalf of both Mr Rahman’s ‘Tower Hamlets First’ party and the Labour Party were crowding entrances to polling stations, harassing potential voters. This was despite the fact that authorities had dedicated extra policing to ensure free and fair elections in the heavily Bangladeshi dominated borough.
Mr Biggs’s testimony is said to be part of a wider dossier that may be submitted to the High Court as early as Monday. The file alleges industrial scale corruption and will seek to overturn the result of the election – forcing another costly exercise for the area.
Mr Biggs wrote: “I remain a good loser, provided it was a good competition. But I am becoming clearer by the day that, remarkably in this mother of democracies, it could ultimately be declared that the election was bent.”
The Telegraph reports that the dossier contains the following allegations:
Bengali voters, especially women, were intercepted by Mr Rahman’s supporters outside polling stations, then “accompanied” into the polling booths and “directed how to vote”.
In Lansbury ward, Labour votes were “crossed out” on ballot papers and “Tower Hamlets First [Mr Rahman’s party] votes entered with a different colour pen”.
In Weavers ward, the Labour votes “appeared to have been erased” on a “substantial number” of postal ballot papers.
Count agents for Whitechapel ward “reported that many postal ballots [and the accompanying declarations of identity] appeared to have been completed in the same handwriting”.
The counting venue, a converted cinema, was owned by the partner of one of Mr Rahman’s key allies.
Several arrests have been made in conjunction with ongoing investigations into the elections. The counting of the ballots overran by several hours on the day, and results were not released in full until several days after they were expected.
On the night of the count, hundreds of pro-Rahman activists clogged the count and the streets outside hoping for a Rahman victory.
The dossier is also said to contain eyewitness accounts from what happened at polling stations on the day of the elections. One voter said she was asked for help by a Bengali family who said they had been “bullied” by a crowd of Rahman supporters: “I went inside the polling station and found a police officer who came out to escort the family safely through in order to vote,” she said.
Rahman and his allies dismiss the claims made against them. He was expelled by the Labour Party in 2010 following news of his links to extremists groups and individuals. Tower Hamlets Council has a budget of several billion pounds a year – some of which it has been alleged to have used in ‘Muslim favouritism’ spending.