Below is my letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph.
Dear Mr Gallagher,
Last week, your reporter, Andrew Gilligan, made serious allegations about alleged postal voting irregularities (‘Tower Hamlets election fraud: here’s some more evidence’, Telegraph Online April 26th).
I take claims such as these extremely seriously. I have made it clear that anyone who has suspicions of electoral malpractice should immediately report them to the police, the electoral commission and to the local authority.
Council officials, having reviewed the claims made by your reporter, have found that the two individuals, who it was alleged were not entitled to vote, were in fact entitled to do so.
The police have confirmed that there is no substance to the allegations made by Andrew Gilligan.
Even if Andrew Gilligan were to offer to make a correction or indeed apologise to the families concerned, the damage caused to Tower Hamlets by such irresponsible reporting has already been made. Given Andrew Gilligan’s record in his dealings with me and my administration, I do not expect an apology to be forthcoming. Sadly, it is instances such as these which brings journalism into disrepute. It also explains why the current Leveson Inquiry into standards in the media is so important.
In advance of the recent by-election in the Spitalfields Ward, referred to in Gilligan’s report, council officials conducted extra visits to over 4,700 electors in the days before the electoral register closed.
As a result, some 890 electors were removed from the register, as they had moved address. In our borough there is a historically high turnover of residents. None of this was referred to in the report.
As Andrew Gilligan will know, I am on record as saying that if anyone has any real evidence of voting irregularities, they need to report it to the police and the relevant authorities. And as Andrew Gilligan will also know, I have long called for reform of the postal voting system, a system that was not advocated by me, and a system that is clearly open to potential abuse in communities of all colour and religion across the United Kingdom.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets