Scotland Yard is investigating new allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets after the borough’s mayor was thrown out of office and branded corrupt.
Detectives from the Met’s major crime command are considering a criminal investigation into four new claims revealed in a 200 page court judgment declaring Lutfur Rahman’s election in the borough void.
Scotland Yard said they have been granted an extension to the one year time limit for criminal proceedings to be brought due to the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding last May’s election.
A fifth new allegation could not be investigated because of laws requiring that criminal proceedings must be started within one year of the alleged offence being committed.
Police were already investigating 47 allegations of electoral malpractice in Tower Hamlets which were previously reported to them.
The probe into the fresh allegations comes after former mayor Lutfur Rahman was kicked out of office for overseeing corrupt and illegal practices during the election campaign.
Sitting at the high court judge Richard Mawrey ruled that last May’s result should be declared void. A new election is due to be held in June.
Scotland Yard said in a statement: “The Metropolitan Police Service has appointed a detective superintendent from the homicide and major crime command to oversee a review of the 200 page report published by the high court following the election petition hearing.
“Five new allegations, which had not been previously reported to police, have been identified within that report. Four of those are now being assessed to see if a criminal investigation should be carried out.”
The statement added: “We will now ensure that any learning from the High Court report is incorporated into any future police investigations.”
Two people were previously cautioned by the Met after a file was passed to the CPS following an earlier investigation. One person is facing a criminal trial over the investigation.
Scotland Yard’s statement added: “The MPS takes any allegations of electoral fraud or malpractice very seriously, as we are committed to ensuring a free and fair election.
“In the run up to the general election on 7 May, we have worked closely with the electoral commission and all the local authorities to ensure we play our part to protect the integrity of the electoral process in London.
“We are proactively monitoring all information and intelligence and where there are the grounds we will take action to prevent offences from being committed.”
But Conservative councillor Peter Golds, who was praised by the judge for helping expose Rahman’s fraudulent activities, criticised the Met’s response to electoral fraud in the east London borough so far.
“They have been provided - year in, year out - with chapter and verse on ghost voters, they have been provided with people using fraudulent addresses, and they have done nothing,” he told the Standard.
“The police in Tower Hamlets keep telling us they want to do something, but they have just sat back and let it happen for years.”
The Met was also criticised by one of the four residents who launched the petition to bring Rahman down.
Andy Erlam told BBC Radio 4: “Neither the electoral commission or the police were very helpful.
“In fact at times it seemed that the Metropolitan Police has been protecting Rahman over the years.
“Their investigation of electoral fraud seemed as if they were going through the motions.”
The Met’s statement comes a day after disgraced Rahman launched a fundraising drive asking for donations of £5,000 to help fund a legal challenge into last week’s verdict.