Electoral fraud allegations in Peterborough will be robustly investigated, authorities insist

Allegations of electoral fraud will be robustly investigated at the upcoming General Election, the authorities have insisted.

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 5:00 am
A polling station at the by-election in Peterborough earlier this year

The city council and police were inundated with complaints after June’s by-election in Peterborough which led to widespread allegations being made by prominent politicians, as well as many members of the public.

The by-election was won by Labour’s Lisa Forbes who immediately came under attack from the Brexit Party which claimed her campaign had used a convicted vote-rigger, although this was robustly denied by Labour.

Moreover, Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene, who came second to Ms Forbes by 683 votes, launched a legal challenge over the result, although he is trying to get this withdrawn.

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The businessman told the Peterborough Telegraph he was pulling the Electoral Petition from the High Court as the upcoming General Election would make it invalid, and that should he lose he could end up paying costs of more than £400,000.

Labour called the Election Petition a: “bogus complaint intended to make excuses for the Brexit Party’s defeat” and that there had: “never been a shred of evidence to support Mike Greene’s claims”.

The two candidates are set to lock horns again as they are among the six candidates for the election on December 12 who have been confirmed so far.

The other four – Paul Bristow (Conservative), Beki Sellick (Liberal Democrat), Joseph Wells (Green Party) and John Whitby (UKIP) – also fought June’s by-election which was called after sitting MP Fiona Onasanya was kicked out of Parliament by her constituents.

Ms Onasanya became the first MP in the UK to lose her seat from a Recall Petition which was triggered by her being jailed for three months for perverting the course of justice after she lied about speeding points.

A city council spokeswoman said: “We work closely with Cambridgeshire Constabulary to reduce the risk of electoral fraud in the run-up to every election and will do so once again for the election on December 12.

“Any reports of corrupt activity will be investigated by the police and all allegations will be treated seriously. Prosecutions will be brought if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered.

“We will also be carrying out the same stringent checks that we have in previous elections to ensure postal voting legislation is strictly adhered to. For example, only those votes where signatures and dates of birth match exactly those on the original postal vote application form are put forward to be counted.

“In addition, we check 100 per cent of all postal votes to ensure they match.

“Once again we have also set up an election fraud hotline for anyone who has any concerns to report them by calling (01733) 452277. Any concerns will be referred to the police for investigation.”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage described Peterborough as a “rotten borough” following allegations of postal vote fraud during the by-election.

Conservative deputy leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, also alleged there was “harvesting” of postal votes.

The election saw 9,898 postal votes returned at a rate of 69.6 per cent, with 400 rejected.

Cambridgeshire police investigated five allegations of electoral fraud relating to the by-election but found no evidence that offences had been committed.

A police spokesman said: “We work as a partnership with the council to investigate any concerns of malpractice or concerns surrounding anti-social behaviour at polling stations.”