Polling station

Electoral fraud

Start date: 01 February 2017
End date: 30 June 2018

Key facts

  • The Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983 regulates the conduct of electoral registration and UK Parliamentary elections. 
  • The types of offences covered under the RPA 1983 include bribery; undue influence; false application to vote by post or false registration.
  • There were 164 allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice during the 2014 elections in Tower Hamlets.

Our work on this issue

In February 2017 the committee looked at the difficulties in tackling election fraud and malpractice, with a focus on how the police can secure the necessary evidence to prosecute. It specifically looked at the 2014 Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets, to identify any areas for improvement, and found that:

  • There is widespread concern that there have been no criminal prosecutions, despite the Election Court judgement findings against the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, on a variety of corrupt and illegal practices.
  • Evidence was missed in the Met’s investigation - a bundle of 27 files sent to the Director of Public Prosecution was not reviewed by the Met.
  • The relationship between the Met and the Petitioners has been unsatisfactory.
  • The Met was not present through the Election Court hearing, but instead reviewed the final judgement. The Met did not, therefore, hear the full extent of the allegations that were laid out in Court. 
  • There is a deepening sense among Londoners that "justice has not been seen to be done.

The committee concluded that more could have been done to investigate the allegations of fraud and malpractice in Tower Hamlets before and during the 2014 Mayoral election; and that those investigations that did take place were not done to the highest possible standards.
The Committee wrote to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, to recommend that she request Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) investigate the Met Police role in matters relating to the 2014 Mayoral Election in Tower Hamlets; the findings of the Election Court judgement 2015; and associated investigations thereafter. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime agreed to this and requested HMIC carry out an inspection into the handling of the Tower Hamlets case and make recommendations for future improvement. 
Following our intervention, the Met agreed that it would undertake a new investigation, Operation Lynemouth, to review and reassess the previous allegations made around the 2014 election. HMIC subsequently agreed to oversee the Met’s work being carried out by Operation Lynemouth. You can read more about its investigation here.


Next steps

The committee met again in February 2018 to assess the risks to a free and fair Mayoral and local election in Tower Hamlets and to seek assurances that adequate mitigation measures are in place for 2018. You can watch that meeting here. The committee will continue to monitor this issue and raise any questions as necessary