Tower Hamlets

News from Tony Arbour: Tower Hamlets election fraud - Met suffered from ‘Rotherham Syndrome’

10 February 2017

Police feared community reaction, says AM Arbour

– Says Met has ‘serious questions to answer’
– Calls for Mayor to launch full investigation

An apparent reluctance by the Metropolitan Police to properly investigate serious electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets was a case of ‘Rotherham Syndrome’, according to London Assembly member Tony Arbour.

A total of 164 allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice were made during campaigning for the 2014 Mayoral election in the borough and the vote was later declared void.

There have been further allegations since and this morning the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee heard evidence from several witnesses, as well representatives of the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service.

No criminal charges have ever been brought, despite a judge in a civil case declaring the borough’s former Mayor Lutfur Rahman had ‘driven a coach and horses through local authority law’.

During today’s investigation at City Hall, Mr Arbour described the Met’s reluctance to prosecute as ‘Rotherham Syndrome’ – referring to repeated failures by police in Rotherham to investigate a child sex ring over fears the force would be accused of racism.

Mr Arbour’s suspicions about the police treading lightly were shared by former Mayor Boris Johnson when he was questioned about it in 2015(1).

Speaking after today’s meeting, London Assembly member Tony Arbour said:

There is no doubt from the evidence we’ve heard that the Met has some serious questions to answer about the way in which this investigation was handled.

In my view the police were suffering from ‘Rotherham Syndrome’ and failed to robustly investigate these serious allegations for fear of how the community would react.

We’ve now learned the Deputy Mayor is ‘not minded’ to call for a full investigation into these clear police failures.

I will be urging the Mayor to use the full extent of his powers to ensure London does not suffer a similar affront to democracy in future and that all of those guilty of malpractice in this instance are brought to justice.

– The Police and Crime Committee meeting took place in the Chamber at City Hall at 10am this morning (Wednesday, February 9)
– A webcast can be viewed via this link.

(1) Transcript from Mayor’s Question Time on May 21, 2015. Full transcript:
Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman): I want to put it to you, Mr Mayor: do you think that one of the reasons that the police failed to investigate this might be – if I can put it the Rotherham Syndrome – that because these complaints appear to be against

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London): What syndrome?

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman): The Rotherham Syndrome.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London): Rotherham. Right.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman): Where police were reluctant to investigate because they believed that somehow or other these were complaints against a particular section of the community, rather than complaints of electoral offences?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London): I am afraid that that must be the suspicion, and I join you in congratulating Peter Golds, whom I know well, on his persistence and in bringing this matter to light. I hope very much that nothing like this will ever happen in London again and that there will be free and fair elections on 11 June.

Notes to editors

Chris Hewett

Senior press officer

E: [email protected]


Gordon Cameron

Press officer

E: [email protected]

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