The Metropolitan Police Service has said that a lengthy investigation has “not identified sufficient additional evidence or investigative opportunities” to enable it to request the CPS to consider the charging of any individual in relation to offences of electoral fraud and malpractice arising from the 2014 mayoral election in Tower Hamlets.
This decision was taken “after extensive enquiries by a new dedicated team of specialist detectives”, it said.
The Met’s investigation, Operation Lynemouth, was established in May 2017 to reinvestigate previous or new criminal allegations relating to the mayoral election.
The new investigation had focused on four strands:
- A review of 27 files of documents from the 2015 election petition court hearing. The court’s judgment made findings against Lutfur Rahman and Alibor Choudhury, and the mayoral election result was declared void;
- An assessment of all evidence of electoral fraud and malpractice relating to the 2014 mayoral election;
- A reassessment and review of other criminal allegations relating to Lutfur Rahman or the London Borough of Tower Hamlets; and
- An independent review by the City of London Police of the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation into Communities, Localities and Culture (CLC) Youth Project grant funding.
The Met did say, however, that its new investigation had “identified prima facie evidence of a serious criminal offence, which is not directly related to electoral fraud”. Such is the nature of the offence, the City of London Police has agreed to investigate on its behalf, it added.
The Met said its investigation and a wider review of how it works with election Returning Officers, had led to a number of changes to the training and deployment of police officers during elections, and to how criminal investigations are conducted.
A bespoke policing plan was introduced for the 2018 local and mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. Met officers also attended a new national training course for police officers responsible for investigating electoral fraud and malpractice.
The Met stressed that the outcome of the new investigation did not undermine the 2015 election court judgment of Richard Mawrey QC, which forced Rahman to stand down as mayor. “The type and nature of evidence the election court was able to consider is much wider than that which is permissible within any criminal investigation or subsequent proceedings,” it said.
Operation Lynemouth undertook a detailed assessment of the evidence relating to 169 separate allegations and one other matter identified by the new investigation, a total of 170 individual allegations. Fifteen specialist detectives considered over 2,450 documents and statements, 28 days of election court transcripts, and several thousand pages of digital material, the Met said.
The final cost of the new MPS investigation amounted to £1.7m, and involved up to 20 detectives and police staff.