Nearly a year after Lutfur Rahman was dismissed from office the Met Police have finally published a comprehensive statement answering questions by LW regarding investigations into any electoral crime investigations in Tower Hamlets.
“After full consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service a decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence that criminal offences had been committed. “
The full statement is below.
Here are some immediate reactions to the Met statement:
“Crazy!” Jim Fitzpatrick, Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse.
“Flabbergasted.” Cllr. Peter Golds, Leader of the Conservative Group, Tower Hamlets council.
For the last couple of weeks LW has been asking the MPS questions about electoral crime in Tower Hamlets and the publication of the statement today was as a direct result of this.
Or a pure coincidence of course. It being Budget Day and all.
LW has been on the case after hearing remarks by a Tower Hamlets borough Superintendent at a recent Tower Hamlets council Overview & Scrutiny meeting where he said that he had no knowledge of the results of any investigations into electoral malfeasance in the borough as these were being dealt with centrally [at New Scotland Yard] and that we should look to the future, not the past.
Of which more later. Much more.
This was the first email asking basic questions that residents would like an answer to:
Email to MPS #1
Subject: Tower Hamlets electoral corruption
Date: 04 March 2016
1. Are there any current investigations into electoral malfeasance at any local, central or European election in the borough?
2. Is the CO Special Elections Team still operating? If not when was it closed down?
3. Total number of people arrested for alleged offences related to electoral malfeasance in the borough since 2010.
4. Total number of people charged with offences related to electoral malfeasance in the borough since 2010.
5. MPS statement regarding its attitude to investigating past electoral malfeasance
When submitting these questions the immediate response from the MPS was that finding answers to these questions would be an awful lot of work. Then silence.
Strange that residents attending a MPS local policing ward panel can be shown detailed statistics, maps and breakdowns of burglaries, assaults and thefts in E1W but the Met does not seem to be able to access data on electoral crime without an awful lot of work.
A few days after this first email LW was reminded of some tweets by Tower Hamlets police just after the electoral petition result.
Email to MPS #2
Subject Re: Tower Hamlets electoral corruption
Date 09 March 2016
Could these questions be added to my previous ones for the SET [Special Enquiry Team] to answer please?
On May 1 2015 @MPSWTowerHam tweeted this:
We have appointed a Det Superintendent to review the report published by the High Court following the election petition hearing (1 of 2)
(2/2) Five new allegations, which had not been previously reported to police, have been identified within the election petition report.
This was also covered by the Standard (http://bit.ly/1U3jjWA) and other national media outlets.
- Has the review into the High Court report been concluded and if so what was the result?
- Have the ‘five new allegations’ referred to been investigated? If so what was the outcome?
- Has ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman ever been interviewed by the MPS?
Then silence. And some more silence. And a bit more.
It really did seem that it really was an awful lot of work for some of the most highly skilled detectives in the country to answer some basic questions.
This morning LW (16 March 2016) LW sent yet another email to New Scotland Yard again asking for answers to questions.
Just to add some ginger to my request I provided the MPS with an overview of what LW investigations have revealed about the workings of Lutfur Rahman’s regime.
Exactly one hour and ten minutes later LW was emailed a link to the MPS statement below:
Assessment completed re allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets
The Metropolitan Police Service Special Enquiry Team (SET) has now finished its assessment of the information arising from the 200 page report published in April 2015 by the High Court following the election petition hearing.
After full consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service a decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence that criminal offences had been committed.
The High Court Judge did not refer any matters from the Election Petition Hearing to the MPS for investigation. However a full review was carried out by specialist detectives from the SET of the High Court report. That review identified five new allegations, one of which could not be pursued as the one year time limit had expired before police were aware of the allegation. It also identified new material in connection with 47 of the allegations originally reported to us.
The Election Petition Hearing was a civil process through the High Court. Within that hearing the rules regarding admissibility of evidence and liability were different to those applied for any criminal prosecution.
In the lead up to, during and after the election on 22 May 2014, the MPS received 164 complaints of election malpractice in Tower Hamlets. Every allegation was recorded and investigated to understand, what, if any criminal offences had been committed.
As part of the original investigation two people were cautioned and there is one criminal trial outstanding.
Due to the specialist and complex nature of the legislation, advice was sought at various stages of this whole process from the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.
A full review of the policing operation for the 2014 Mayoral Election in Tower Hamlets was carried out with the Returning Officer from the Local Authority. This led to a new plan being implemented for both the General Election and Mayoral Election in 2015, jointly with the Returning Officer. As a result there was a significant reduction in public concern and complaints to police.
The MPS takes any allegations of electoral fraud or malpractice very seriously. We will continue to work closely with the Electoral Commission, and local authorities, to ensure we play our part to protect the integrity of the electoral process in London.
While LW and residents of Tower Hamlets did not have high hopes of any positive response from the Met we were a little miffed to read the above.
Points of law
But as the Met statement shows that they are a little rusty on some very basic points of law maybe this is not so surprising?
The first paragraph of the Met statement refers to:
“the 200 page report published in April 2015 by the High Court”
It was not a report. It was a judgement. You – or even the largest police force in the UK – can work this out by the word “JUDGEMENT” on the first page. The PDF document is even called – you guessed it – ‘judgement.pdf’.
For the benefit of doubt here is part of the page with a nice red arrow pointing to the relevant word. Hope that helps NSY.
In the third paragraph of the Met statement we have:
“The High Court Judge did not refer any matters from the Election Petition Hearing to the MPS for investigation.”
What did the Met want? An invitation written in gold on embroidered cushion made especially for the occasion reading “Political corruption is rife in the borough so go and do your job? Seems like it.
The most damning part of the statement is the fourth paragraph which would seem to confirm the suspicion of many (and personal testimony of others) that the MPS has not even read the Mawrey judgement. Which would explain a lot:
“The Election Petition Hearing was a civil process through the High Court. Within that hearing the rules regarding admissibility of evidence and liability were different to those applied for any criminal prosecution.”
Wrong. Wrong and wrong again.
Yes the electoral petition was a civil process. Wrong that the “the rules regarding admissibility of evidence and liability were different to those applied for any criminal prosecution.”
Below are paragraphs 47 to 50 of the judgement (not ‘report’ remember) delivered by Judge Mawrey QC at the conclusion of the Electoral Petition case. These paragraphs relate to the standard of proof required. (LW emphasis)
47 There was no controversy at the hearing about the standard of proof the court must apply to the charges of corrupt and illegal practices. It is settled law that the court must apply the criminal standard of proof, namely proof beyond reasonable doubt. This was definitively decided by the Court of Appeal in R v Rowe, ex parte Mainwaring8, a decision binding on this court
48 In respect of general corruption, there are two aspects to the case under s164:
a) proving that there has been general corruption designed to secure the election of the candidate;
b) showing that this may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result.
49 My rulings in this regard having been unchallenged to date, I shall apply the criminal standard of proof to the issue of whether there has been general corruption and the civil standard of proof to the issue of whether it may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result.
50 Thus the court will apply
a) the criminal standard of proof to the charges that Mr Rahman and/or his agents have been guilty of corrupt or illegal practices;
b) the criminal standard of proof to the question of whether there has been general corruption; but
c) the civil standard of proof to the question of whether the general corruption may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result of the election.
That seems pretty clear. So why is the Met putting out a statement that is factually incorrect with regard to the burden of proof required in the petition?
All of the criminal offences Mawrey found to have been committed by Lutfur Rahman and/or his agents was established to the criminal standard – ie beyond reasonable doubt.
Poor logic? Or a poor excuse?
The only reason LW can think of is that the Met is trying and failing to use this as an excuse for their lack of desire to investigate anything relating to electoral wrongdoing in Tower Hamlets.
Logic is sound. If the burden of proof is only that required for a civil action, not criminal, then the petition judgement (there’s that word again!) cannot have been a judgement that criminal acts had been carried out.
But as the judgement states quite clearly in paragraphs 47 to 50 quoted above the criminal standard of proof was applied to the issue of general corruption.
Which brings us all, a year on, to the question of why the Metropolitan Police has done nothing to impose the rule of law in relation to electoral crime in Tower Hamlets?
The only judgement of Lutfur Rahman and his agents (Tower Hamlets First) was handed down as a result of four ordinary residents having the courage to bring an electoral petition to court.
It seems increasingly likely that the only prosecutions for electoral malfeasance in the borough will be brought by residents, not the authorities and certainly not the MPS.
The Met has failed Tower Hamlets.
An even greater shame that it is no surprise.