EXCLUSIVE: How Lutfur Rahman used Youth Services to steal an election

“I saw the kids getting off the [Youth Service] bus with these postal vote envelopes. Reason I know they were postal votes was because it says LBTH on the envelope and I recognised it…  It seemed as if they had a list as they would go to a specific door, knock knock, the door opens, person who lives there signs, gives the form back then they go to another door. Then they go back to the van.”

Crissy Townsend
Crissy Townsend

This is a short extract from an eye witness statement by community activist Crissy Townsend of the Teviot Action Group who many Tower Hamlets residents will know personally.

Crissy has worked tirelessly for decades to improve her community and her integrity cannot be doubted. Love Wapping can also personally testify as to her desire to see the truth about Tower Hamlets recent past exposed.

Her full statement is published below. In it Crissy describes how on multiple occasions she watched as Tower Hamlets Council Youth Service vehicles were used for the gathering of votes on various estates in Poplar during the 2014 local elections.

Industrial scale voting fraud

LW has delayed publication of this statement until other investigative work has been undertaken. Later this week LW will publish a full description of the voting fraud undertaken on an industrial scale by Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party in the London borough of Tower Hamlets during the 2014 local elections.

Much more investigative work needs to be completed and published but in recent months the central role of the council’s Youth Service personnel in this systematic voting fraud has become apparent.

Incredible but true

Many will find this story to be incredible. This is understandable. But it is still true.

A Youth Services ‘Rapid Response Team’ (RRT) truck or bus is essentially a mobile youth centre equipped with various bits of kit like computers and PlayStations etc. These are intended to be deployed to various locations around the borough to engage with the youth on the streets.

It would seem that during election time the DAF RRT trucks, similar to the one pictured below, were used for other purposes.

7.5 tonne DAF truck

The statement by Crissy Townsend reproduced below was dictated to Love Wapping between 11.00 and 12.00 hrs on Wednesday 20th July 2016. Crissy is more than happy to make a formal statement to the authorities and give evidence in court if required.


Eyewitness statement of Crissy Townsend, Teviot Action Group

“This all took place between February and the end of April 2014. I had seen the Council’s ‘Rapid Response’ trucks about, they did not go to the [Youth] clubs but were for the communities on the street. I had seen the RR trucks on all the different estates in the area, Bow, Aberfeldy, the Teviot Estate at Langdon Park, Brownfield, Lincoln.

One of my residents came to see me – I was Chair of the [Teviot] Estate board then – and she told me that she wanted the [RR] trucks moved off her estate as the people using it were all taking drugs and drinking and then being sick outside her hours when they had drunk too much and causing trouble. She asked me if i could this to the Poplar HARCA Estate Board and see if anyone else had witnessed this, others had.

At the meeting we asked for the trucks to be more controlled and to look at the youth using them.

I talked to a young chap who lived on the Aberfeldy and I asked him if he had noticed these trucks and he said “Tell me about it.”

He said that the kids don’t get on the truck for very long, they go in and out. He said that he lives there and was fed up with so many youths going on the bus and taking drugs, then they are outside his front door with packets of drugs, sometimes they are sick outside. They are getting drunk and then they have the cheek to knock on my door and ask me if I had done a postal vote and would I like to do one?

I was shocked by all this and told him I am coming over your way, the next time he saw them to give me a call and I will see for myself.

That was on the Tuesday and I went over on the Thursday evening.

I was in a car just off Abbots Road at the sports pitch and the bus was about five or six metres away from me. It was seven o’clock in the evening in the summer so it was still light.

I saw the kids getting off the bus with these postal vote envelopes. Reason I know they were postal votes was because it says LBTH on the envelope and I recognised it. I would say I saw three or four get on, then another five, then another group of three or four. After the had finished they would congregate on the pitch, some playing football, but most it looked like they just wanted to rest. Some could not walk.

I followed some of them into Nairn Street when they got off the bus they were knocking on the doors with the postal votes.

I think the postal votes must have been in the van as the got on with nothing in their hands and got off with a pile of seven or so postal votes. Most of them were Bengali kids.

It seemed as if they had a list as they would go to a specific door, knock knock, the door opens, person who lives there signs, gives the form back then they go to another door. Then they go back to the van.

Aberfeldy, Bow Estate and Langdon Park where the main places I saw this as that’s my local area.

I suppose i saw this same thing happen around ten times as a minimum, probably a lot more. The trucks were there at different times, 7pm, 8.45pm.

The kids ages were between 14 – 20 years old, but mainly younger ones, all male.

The odd thing was how they would go into the van, less than five mins at most, then come out really happy, with no letters or envelopes, they were very happy. Almost too happy, as if they were on something.

There was one lad I knew, a lovely boy, and I knew that he had been doing the postal votes on the vans because I saw him get on one day.

Anyway I stopped him one day outside TAG [Teviot Action Group], the community office, and asked him if he was OK? I asked what had happened to him? He said “I am working for the Mayor now, I am a delivery man, and I am doing the postal…” He stopped because he realised his friends were watching him.

He’s in jail now, assaulted a lot of people.

It didn’t stop there. On 23rd April I went to a meeting at the Town Hall for Ward Panel Chairs representing Lansbury and reported it to the police for them to check.

I said I had seen kids coming off the bus drunk, I deliberately didn’t mention the postal votes or drugs.

My [now deceased] brother-in-law James phoned me one day a couple of weeks later and said the trucks were on his estate, the Bow Estate on Devons’ Road. I went down to have a look and I couldn’t believe my eyes, two police officers got off the bus with Papa John’s Pizzas.

Another time the youths were in the same block as James he said the kids were going round the doors with postal votes. He knew they were postal votes because he had seen them knock on his neighbour’s door and saw them.

Another time i heard a lot of shouting in my block, a neighbour of mine, a night worker, was shouting his head off because some of the postal vote people had knocked on his door by mistake and woken him up. They ran away so fast they dropped their postal votes on the ground. When I turned up they were picking up the postal votes from the floor, I went over and asked if they were alright? They said yes, they could hardly walk but kept going.

Everybody I saw getting on the bus got off with envelopes which I am 100% sure contained postal votes.

Another day I went to the flats at Robin Hood Gardens and a met a youth on the top floor, 18 year old Bangla / Asian boy, who was in desperate need of heroin. There were men working on the derelict properties, taking out electric meters and all the plumbing to make the flats uninhabitable.

The workmen said that lots of letters had been delivered and they were a bit puzzled by this, there was a big heap on the floor. I recognised that many of them were postal votes.

I talked to the young boy.

Q: ”What do you do with these postal votes?”

A:”I sell them to the mosque.”

Q: “Do you get much for them?”

A: “Depends who is there.”

Q: “Who do you sell them to?”

A: “The big men.”

— Statement ends —

To give Crissy’s statement context LW will be publishing a full description of how the activities of the Youth Service RRT trucks fitted in with other vote related activities later this week.

FOI 13371 Rapid Response Team Mobile Youth Centre

[Submitted 04/08 / 2015]

This FOI was not submitted by LW but by a resident who thought it was very odd that the Youth Service Rapid Response Team trucks should have disappeared from the road of our borough the day before the end of the 2014 elections in the borough.

Strange that, innit?

I was wondering if you could provide me with the following information regarding the Rapid Response Team Mobile Youth Centre:

  • Number of vehicles used for this service
  • Make and models of the vehicles
  • The registration and fleet numbers of vehicles
  • Current status (ie active or mothballed) and their locations

FOI 13371 council response

There are four vehicles –

• Two DAF Trucks 7.5t, tail and lift

• Two DAF Trucks 7.5t

1. Fleet Number 12018 – Registration Number EU06 HJC

2. Fleet Number 10122 – Registration Number EU03HRE

3. Fleet Number 10121 – Registration Number EU53 BYF

4. Fleet Number 10120 – Registration Number EU03 HRF

Location of vehicles: 585-593 Commercial Road, London E1 0HJ

Moth balled: None.

Take a selfie stick

LW has made several trips to the Council’s car pound at 585-593 Commercial Road, London E1 0HJ (junction with Bromley Street, opposite from Sainsbury’s) and at least two of the trucks have remained in the same corner of the car pound for the last year or so.

Moth balled? Absolutely.

They are not easy to see but they can be seen – we recommend taking photos over the wall with a selfie stick. And here they are.

Two of the Youth Service Rapid Response Trucks at Commercial Road Car pound.
Two of the Youth Service Rapid Response Trucks at Commercial Road Car pound.

(Note to Metropolitan Police: You might want to go and seal these trucks. Maybe even undertake a full forensic examination of them? You might find all sorts of things inside.)

For more information

Crissy Townsend biography

Mrs Crissy Townsend has been a community activist in Tower Hamlets since 1997 when she formed the Teviot Action Group (TAG) to regenerate the Teviot Estate. Mrs Townsend’s efforts have won her a Millennium Award from the School of Social Entrepreneurs and recognition from the Mayor of London. Her work has led to £10m investment into Tower Hamlets and the building of Langdon Park DLR station.

Other Youth Service stories by Love Wapping

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