Vehicle containing blank election ballot papers destined for polls in Eastbourne as well as Hastings and Rye has been stolen in London, say police
A van carrying more than 200,000 ballot papers for next week’s parliamentary and council elections has been stolen.
The papers had been printed in London and were being taken to two constituencies – Hastings and Rye, and Eastbourne – before voting in the general election on 7 May.
The Metropolitan police, which are investigating the theft of the vehicle from Dagenham in east London, has informed Hastings and Eastbourne councils.
Officers found nothing to suggest the white Mercedes van had been targeted for its contents or that the theft was an attempt at electoral fraud. They told the local authorities they believed it was a coincidence the stolen van contained ballot papers. The theft took place overnight.
The vehicle contained 72,300 voting slips for Hastings and Rye, and 130,000 for Eastbourne. A Hastings council spokesman said: “We have been in touch with the Electoral Commission and, following their guidance, we have put a process in place which will ensure that these ballot papers are not used for fraudulent purposes and cannot be included in the count.”
EASTBOURNE appeared to be a safe seat for the Lib Dems in Lord Ashcroft poll in September 2014.
Hastings & Rye
10 May 2015
Former Respect MP announces he has begun legal proceedings to have result of Bradford West election set aside.
George Galloway has said that he has begun legal proceedings to overturn the election result in Bradford West, after he lost by more than 11,000 votes to the Labour candidate, Naz Shah.
Labour called the former Respect MP “pathetic” after he said he was hoping to get Shah debarred as an MP. Galloway accused her of lying about him on Urdu television and of falsely claiming to have been forced into marriage at 15.
Galloway also claims to have uncovered “widespread malpractice” in the battle for Bradford West, including postal voting fraud.
The Bradford West contest was dogged by claims and counter-claims between Labour and Respect over a number of issues, especially relating to Shah’s family background.
Shah – who won the seat on a 29.7% swing from Respect, polling 19,977 votes to Galloway’s 8,557 – has vowed to sue Galloway for calling the circumstances of her marriage into question.
Announcing his legal bid to overturn the election result, Galloway said: “It has come to my notice that there has been widespread malpractice in this election, particularly over postal voting. We are in the process of compiling the information which will form part of our petition to have the result set aside.”
Galloway has also added to a previous complaint he had made under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which concerns false statements made with the intention of affecting the result of an election.
“An allegation made by Naz Shah in Urdu on a well-watched Asian TV show is both untrue and extremely serious,” he said.
Conceding defeat in the early hours of Friday morning, Galloway said: “I don’t begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration, of course.
“But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact, I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”
23 May 2014
Officers in Manchester, Bradford, London and Birmingham have begun inquiries after receiving complaints about “ghost” voters, false statements by candidates and multiple attempts to vote by a single person.
The inquiries have emerged after the Guardian contacted police forces covering 16 areas that the elections watchdog has identified as being vulnerable to electoral fraud, particularly around the use of postal votes.
As well as Birmingham and Bradford, they include Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Calderdale, Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Slough, Tower Hamlets, Walsall and Woking.
West Yorkshire police, whose officers serve Bradford where former councillors have been imprisoned for electoral fraud, said they had received 21 allegations of electoral irregularities.
DI Ian Lawrie, of protective services (crime), said: “We have currently had 21 allegations that have been recorded for further investigation for election-related incidents. These include a number of matters under the Representation of the People Act 1983.”
On Thursday, there were 14 investigations across Greater London, according to a Metropolitan police spokesman. These included the arrest of two prospective councillors in Tower Hamlets, east London, and Enfield, north London, for false declarations on election papers. Police have also been asked to investigate allegations of intimidation and tampering with postal votes in the east London borough.
West Midlands police, which oversees parts of Birmingham and Walsall, said that they had received 11 allegations of electoral fraud.
In Greater Manchester, police have launched five inquiries – three inquiries into the eligibility of candidates to stand in the elections, one into a claim that a person had voted twice and another into claims of a false statement on an election leaflet, a spokesman said.
Ukip have sought to exploit electoral fraud allegations in Oldham, which is overseen by Greater Manchester police, by lampooning postal vote fraud in an election leaflet. The document, distributed by a former Labour councillor, claimed that it was easy for certain councillors to win because they can count on “the white folk not voting”.
A spokesman for Lancashire police, which covers towns including Burnley, Darwen and Hyndburn, where there have been previous allegations of fraud, said they would only release information about electoral fraud if an application was made under the Freedom of Information Act – a process that can take weeks.
Thames Valley police said they had received eight allegations of minor misconduct relating to issues such as printing irregularities, four of which have been resolved, but had not received any claims of electoral fraud.
Surrey, Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire police have not yet released any figures.
An Electoral Commission report in January identified the 16 boroughs and cities as vulnerable to electoral fraud and called for increased police involvement in elections.
At one point the commission considered dropping postal voting in these areas to combat fraud. But, following a public consultation, it decided this would unfairly hit many ordinary people who needed to vote by post.
Instead, it has urged the police to patrol polling stations during elections in the 16 named areas and dedicate more resources to investigating electoral-fraud allegations, which critics complain have been a low priority for the police.
6 May 2015.
12:45 06 May 2015
Hackney Council has been forced to admit there has been a problem issuing thousands of voters with ballot papers – many of whom may have lost out on their chance to vote tomorrow.
Town Hall last week categorically denied there was a backlog in issuing postal vote papers when the Gazette reported how a student had lost her vote because it failed to arrive before she travelled abroad, despite applying two months earlier.
But after more complaints flooded in, the council admitted on Friday that as many as 3,000 people were affected by a delay in sending out their postal votes after the cut-off date of April 22, and had promised to courier the final 270 out on Friday.
However, on Monday many people were still complaining that they had still not got their ballot papers through.
Residents new to the borough are also affected, like Amanda Fitzalan Howard who finds it “scandalous” she has lost her vote.
She received a letter in March stating that her application was on track, but discovered this week she is not on the electoral register.
She said: “On calling electoral services I have been told that they have had thousands of complaints and they blamed the new system. I was told that there was absolutely nothing I can do.”
Meanwhile, Anna Harte complained on Twitter: “My partner was only told yesterday that they need his passport. We registered in Feb!”
Becky Horsbrugh replied: “This seems to have been an issue for weeks and the council clearly not addressed it.”
Another residents, Claire Mason tweeted: “Failure of my borough’s infrastructure means that I have been… denied a vote.”
The council blamed the high number of postal vote applications – which stands at 28,000 – and the government’s new Individual Electoral Registration which meant that they had to cross-check every application with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), via a new online registration service.
A spokesman said: “In Hackney we had a very large number of people whose details didn’t match – and also people voting from their address for the first time, which meant they needed to register under IER.
“The problem has been getting the registration confirmation from the government and then processing the postal ballot application – all of which must be verified.”
8 June 2014
MP who blew whistle on ‘banana republic’ postal vote rigging a decade ago says city still has a problem
Ten years on from the postal vote fraud scandal which saw Birmingham’s political system likened to a ‘banana republic’ an MP says he is sure there is still election fraud today.
The city council election on June 10, 2004 was perhaps the darkest day in Birmingham’s political history as it marred by vote rigging on an industrial scale which left trust in the electoral system shattered.
Yardley Lib Dem MP John Hemming, together with his colleague barrister Ayoub Khan, brought the resulting postal vote fraud court cases which a year later lead to six inner-city Labour councillors being sacked and elections in Aston and Bordesley Green re-run.
High Court Judge Richard Mawrey QC, presiding over the election court, famously declared the fraud “would disgrace a banana republic,” after his election court found there was a campaign by Labour Party activists to forge, steal, and alter thousands of postal votes.
The extent of fraud was uncovered when police found candidates and supporters handling unsealed postal ballots in a deserted warehouse in Birch Road East, Aston during a late-night raid two days before the election.
Problems also became apparent when the number of postal votes rocketed from 28,000 in 2003 to 70,000 in 2004 – and witnesses saw people delivering bags full of ballot papers to polling stations and counts.
Although the regulations were tightened in the light of the case, particularly over candidates and supporters farming votes from residents, there are sill concerns over fraud.
Former Coun Ayoub Khan pictured on Priory Queensway in Birmingham city centre
Looking back, Mr Hemming said that while it is unlikely that fraud on that industrial scale is taking place, it does still happen in Birmingham.
He said: “There was a small amount of progress after the Election Court. But there is still vote fraud going on in this city. There are signs of it.”
He is convinced there is a problem with personation, where somebody goes to a polling station and gives the name of someone else, usually a known non-voter, and takes their ballot.
“You can go from polling station to polling station, an individual could vote 20 times like this. I am checking details of ten people we know who never vote but who are down as having voted.”
He argues that only by demanding a photo identification, as is required in Northern Ireland, that this problem could be eliminated.
He also believes there is some postal vote fraud, and during the last election campaign published a photo on his website of a single post box stuffed with ballots.
Of the six Labour councillors sacked in 2005, five, Shah Jahan, Shafaq Ahmed, Ayaz Khan, Mohammed Nazrul Islam and Mohammed Amin Kazi, have never returned to front line politics after serving their suspensions.
Only Muhammed Afzal successfully challenged the findings against him at the Court of Appeal. He returned to the council in 2007 and is now chairman of human resources.
10 May 2015, Protests already.
Fifteen people, including a 16-year-old boy, were arrested following clashes with police during an anti-austerity protest close to Downing Street.
Officers in riot gear clashed with a “minority” of protesters who threw objects during the rally – which came after the Tory election victory.
Met Police said four police officers and a police staff member were injured.
A police investigation is also under way after graffiti referring to “Tory scum” was daubed on a war memorial.
Met Police said of the 15 arrested, 14 people been bailed pending further inquiries including a full review of CCTV footage and a 24-year-old man remains in custody after being arrested on suspicion of assault on police.