Police called in over ‘irregularities’ on vote about future of Brick Lane and Spitalfields
Business leaders in east London are under criminal investigation over alleged voting irregularities and an alleged conspiracy to influence a key planning referendum.
Tower Hamlets Council last November voted on plans to shape the next decade of development in the historic Spitalfields area, with residents voting in favor but companies voting against the proposals.
The Spitalfields Neighborhood Plan was created to guide planning decisions through 2035 in east London’s trendy area near the Square Mile, which includes Brick Lane, Queen Anne’s Christ Church and the famous Spitalfields Market.
But after the referendum, police were called in to investigate the company’s “no” vote amid suspicions of “possible conspiracy to undermine the referendum”, allegations of multiple voting and allegations that some business owners had exercised “undue influence”. to influence the vote against the council’s plan.
News of the inquiry came after a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court gave police and prosecutors an extra 12 months to complete the inquiry and rule on possible criminal charges.
Timothy Straker KC, representative of the CPS, said offenses under the Representation of the People Act 1983 are examined in a “complex” investigation that requires the input of specialist lawyers.
Arrests and a specialist examination of the ballot papers will be considered as the investigation continues.
According to legal papers obtained by the Evening Standard, the Met’s special investigation team is leading the investigation in a district that has recently experienced electoral troubles. In 2015, Mayor Lutfur Rahman was found guilty by an electoral tribunal of corrupt and illegal practices during the 2014 election campaign, leading to his impeachment after widespread election corruption was found.
He has maintained his innocence and is serving a ban before returning triumphantly to be elected acting mayor of Tower Hamlets in May this year. The Spitalfields Neighborhood Plan was drawn up during the mayorship of his predecessor, Labor Party John Biggs, who faced local opposition to his approach to planning the historic district.
Historic Spitalfields Market – In pictures
In evidence for District Judge Michael Snow in October, detective Melissa Gillam said the deal vote of 70 votes against and 18 yes raised suspicions because a no vote was an “unusual occurrence” in a local planning referendum. She identified violations of leaflet and spending rules as possible criminal offenses, as well as suspicions that companies had voted more than once.