Lutfur Rahman under pressure to cooperate with all investigations
Labour Councillors have today referred allegations that canvassers for independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman impersonated Tower Hamlets Homes officials, to the borough’s police commander and electoral Returning Officer for investigation.
The call for an investigation was made after the popular LoveWapping blog featured an article stating that people claiming to work for taxpayer funded Tower Hamlets Homes were using their position to canvass for the current independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman including distributing election leaflets.
Writing in a letter to Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Labour said that the allegations raised the concern of fraudulent or even illegal practices being undertaken stating that if “the individuals did indeed work for Tower Hamlets Homes this would of course represent a significant abuse of tax payer money and would need investigation. If individuals did not work for Tower Hamlets Homes, and were impersonating them for the purpose of electoral canvassing, this would in our opinion be tantamount to fraud as well as the attempt to acquire contact details constituting an offence of obtaining information by deception.”
Earlier this week Tower Hamlets Homes responded to the concerns by issuing a statement on their website warning residents to beware of bogus callers impersonating THH staff.
“We have had reports that people claiming to be Tower Hamlets Homes staff are knocking on doors, particularly in the Wapping area. All THH staff carry ID cards (see example).”
Labour say they had a duty to report the potential misconduct to the police under the Electoral Commission’s Code of Conduct for Campaigners which says that anyone concerned that electoral fraud may have taken place should report it to the authorities.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:
“Reports made in the local media are of great concern and should be investigated fully. If true, not only would these reports represent a potential abuse of tax payer money but also a premeditated illegal attempt to defraud the public.
“Whilst we all hope that these allegations can be answered, the Mayor’s current silence on this issue is incredibly worrying. There are a large number of questions which need to be answered and it is important for the credibility and integrity of the upcoming elections that these are done so in an open and transparent matter.”
Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
"We have been hearing for some time that the Mayor has employed teams of paid workers to knock on residents doors. They cannot legally be Council employees and must be employed privately by him. In many cases they start the conversation by saying they are from the Mayor’s office although they are clearly not. On its own that is a shady use of his position. If some of these people are also impersonating housing officers that is a scandal.
“This is a murky issue and we need to get to the bottom of it. The Mayor needs to be open not just about the conduct of his canvassers but also about who is funding and running his campaign following these damaging allegations. People will not accept any politician who attempts to use deception in a desperate attempt to cling to power."