London: Multicultural District That Voted to ‘Ban Trump’ Facing Almost 40 New Corruption Claims

People walk past a police officer outside a polling station on Brick Lane, east London on June 8, 2017, as Britain holds a general election.

Detectives drafted into a diverse London borough at the centre of a number of serious corruption scandals are reportedly looking into 39 new claims of electoral fraud ahead of local elections next month.

A specialist team from the Metropolitan Police’s crime and operation division are actively investigating 28 out of a total of 39 complaints made over the mayoral contest in Tower Hamlets, East London.

Reports were made to police by councillors, journalists, election candidates, and an MP, according to the Evening Standard, and concern bribery, forgery, and ballot tampering.

On May 3rd, anti-fraud officers are set to monitor polling stations in Tower Hamlets where they will be stationed wearing body cameras in a bid to deter illegal activity.

Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, propelled the beleaguered borough to national attention in 2015 when he was removed from office after an electoral court found evidence of “corrupt and illegal practices”.

Said to have wielded “undue spiritual influence” over Muslim voters during the 2014 election, Rahman was also accused of handing cash to UK-based Bangladeshi media outlets for positive coverage and diverting millions of pounds in grants to charities run by Bangladeshis and Somalis in return for political support.

Though Rahman was banned from standing for office for five years, his Labour successor John Biggs is fighting for a second term in the face of a new party set up by the disgraced former mayor in January, which is called Aspire.

Biggs, who ran on a promise to clean up the borough, is running against People’s Alliance councillor Rabina Khan and Aspire councillor Ohid Ahmed, the latter of whom recently proposed a successful motion to ‘ban’ U.S. President Donald J. Trump from Tower Hamlets.

The motion was passed by a majority vote and received support from Labour, with Biggs telling councillors “We must be vigorous in our intolerance of his intolerance,” and blasting the president’s alleged failure to “applaud diversity”.

Leader of the London council’s Conservatives group, Peter Golds — who had opposed the symbolic action against Trump — said voters were “fed up” with Tower Hamlets’ reputation for electoral corruption, with fraud a “huge issue”.

“When you knock on doors they say things like, ‘Why would I bother voting when it’s so corrupt. What is the point?” he told the Evening Standard.

A spokesman for the council said: “Tower Hamlets has some of the strongest measures in the country to prevent fraud.

“These include a police officer and exclusion zones at every polling station, checks on households where more than five voters are registered and a new online reporting tool to make it simple for people to report any suspect activity.

“We are also working closely with the Electoral Commission and Crimestoppers and last month their national ‘Your Vote is Yours Alone’ campaign was launched in Tower Hamlets.”


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