London

Met Police 'failed' in Tower Hamlets election fraud probe

Lutfur Rahman Image copyright JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Lutfur Rahman was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices by an Election Court in April 2015

Police made "major failings" while investigating electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets, a London Assembly committee chairman has said.

Steve O'Connell said there was concern the Met Police had not charged former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Rahman was forced to step down after an Election Court found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Police had investigated claims of electoral fraud and malpractice during the local elections of 2014.

Mr Rahman, who became Tower Hamlets' first directly elected mayor in 2010 and was re-elected four years later, has faced no criminal prosecution.

The Met has been contacted for a comment.

'Not what we expect '

Mr O'Connell, chairman of the Assembly's Police and Crime Committee, said: "During our investigation, we, as a committee, have been shocked to uncover major failings by the Metropolitan Police in its ability to investigate allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice."

He said failings included missed files of evidence, missed opportunities to gather witness statements and witnesses who were prepared to give evidence in the election court but were unwilling to do so in criminal proceedings.

He also said a bundle of 27 files sent to the Director of Public Prosecution was not reviewed by the force.

"This is not what we expect from a supposedly world-leading police force," he said.

Mr O'Connell has written to Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, urging her to use her powers to call on Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to look into the activities of officers investigating the election.

He said it was time for "a fresh pair of eyes" to review the activities of the Met.

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