London

Votes 'not secret' in Tower Hamlets election

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets Image copyright PA
Image caption Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman denies any wrongdoing

A social worker has told a judge she became concerned when she saw two people in one voting booth at a local election in east London.

At the Election Court - part of the High Court - four petitioners allege Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman used "corrupt and illegal practices" in May last year.

Janet Digby-Baker said votes were "clearly not secret" when she voted in the Limehouse ward.

Mr Rahman denies any wrongdoing.

Four voters, headed by Andy Erlam, who stood as a Tower Hamlets councillor, have mounted a challenge under the 1983 Representation Of The People Act at a special High Court hearing.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Petitioners Azmal Hussein, Angela Moffat and Andy Erlam have accused Lutfur Rahman of electoral fraud

They want Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey, who is a senior lawyer sitting as a judge, to declare the May 2014 election null and void.

Ms Digby-Baker, who said she was involved in the civil rights movement in the United States, told Mr Mawrey how she saw two people in a voting booth more than once.

She said: "I was trying to think when I knew it was wrong for two people to be in a voting booth.

"I think I had known that throughout my life."

She added: "I always thought, understood that my vote was secret and these were clearly not secret votes."

Lawyers for the four petitioners have made a series of allegations, including "personation" - where people pretend to be someone else - in postal voting and at polling stations as well as ballot paper tampering.

Lawyers for Mr Rahman, who was re-elected for independent party Tower Hamlets First, have described the claims as "invention", "exaggeration" and "in some cases downright deliberately false allegations".

The hearing continues.

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