A ‘substantial number’ of completed postal ballot forms were in a car by police in Tower Hamlets
Police in Tower Hamlets found a “car boot full of postal vote applications” after stopping the vehicle in a routine search.
A “substantial number” of completed postal ballot forms were found in the incident, near Westferry Circus on the Isle of Dogs, on June 3, a Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed.
The driver, a man aged 24, was arrested on suspicion of postal vote fraud.
The seized documents are among the most significant leads in eight police investigations into last month’s elections in the east London borough.
The poll, in which the extremist-linked independent mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was narrowly re-elected, was plagued by allegations of intimidation, fraud and misconduct.
Mr Rahman was expelled from the Labour Party in 2010 after The Sunday Telegraph revealed his links with a Muslim extremist organisation, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which wants a sharia state in Europe.
Lutfur Rahman (AFP)
In a separate development, The Sunday Telegraph has learned that a senior official of the IFE was involved in the counting of the votes in last month’s election.
Hira Islam, who is also a Tower Hamlets council officer, took part in the chaotic and prolonged count, which lasted five days with multiple recounts.
After the recounts the vote tallies of some candidates changed by as many as 700 votes.
Mr Islam is a close ally of Mr Rahman and canvassed councillors on his behalf in his original election to become Labour leader in 2008.
Many councillors told The Sunday Telegraph Mr Islam had made threats and promises invoking the name of the IFE, though both Mr Rahman and Mr Islam deny this. There is no suggestion Mr Islam has been involved in electoral fraud.
Elderly voters in the elections said supporters of Mr Rahman had enrolled them against their will for postal votes, asking them to sign completed applications, then returned and taken their blank postal ballot papers from them, even though they did not want to vote for him.
The postal ballot forms seized from the car on June 3 are believed to fall into this category.
The man arrested, who has been released on bail, has been seen campaigning for Mr Rahman.
In a cross-party petition filed at the High Court last week, Mr Rahman is accused of being connected to the alleged fraud, including the casting of postal votes in the names of people not entitled to be on the electoral register.
The petition claims ballots were illegally cast on behalf of other voters, activists were paid to lobby people in and around polling stations, and false allegations of racism were made against Mr Rahman’s Labour opponent, John Biggs.
Andy Erlam, one of the petitioners, who are seeking a rerun, described the irregularities as “industrial-scale”.