Alleged Fraud prior to Tower Hamlets' bi-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown

The request was refused by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Grenville Mills

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Sir, I refer you to (extracts from) communiques between myself and the Metropolitan Police concerning alleged postal voting fraud prior to Tower Hamlets' bi-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown, and am requesting information on any ongoing investigation into the alleged postal voting fraud. If relevant, also, when details of your investigation will be released to the general public.

For the public record, I'll make it perfectly clear that (1) the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe has not responded to my questions on this issue after clearly stating that he would during a live Web chat - see footnote (i) below, and (2) after personally discussing the issue with Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, and his agreement to respond to my written questions, I was subsequently contacted by a PC from his office stating that the matter is being dealt with by New Scotland Yard's Specialist Operations Department (SO15) at Empress State Building. I was advised to contact SO15 to pursue my enquiries. Accordingly I messaged the Department but, notwithstanding their commitment to respond within 24 hours, have not received either an acknowledgement or response from them.

For your reference, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer's office has a record of all communication relating to my enquiries. Rather than list them in this submission, I'll highlight the following:

....in light of the exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote and rejection rate during the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election (41% and 14% respectively), there is ample justification for the Metropolitan Police to:

1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted a postal vote to establish whether any were forced to vote under duress (a clear risk in postal voting).

2. Examine each of the 135 rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent signatures/submissions, prosecute as appropriate.

What action has been taken?

Yours faithfully,

Grenville Mills

(i) Host@MPS:
[Private Message to Grenville Mills] Hi, if you give us your contact details we will follow it up after the chat with the Commissioner? (Reply Privately)

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr. Mills

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012070000809
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 05/07/2012.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

"Sir, I refer you to (extracts from) communiques between myself and the
Metropolitan Police concerning alleged postal voting fraud prior to Tower
Hamlets' bi-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown, and am requesting
information on any ongoing investigation into the alleged postal voting
fraud. If relevant, also, when details of your investigation will be
released to the general public.    

For the public record, I'll make it perfectly clear that (1) the
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe has not responded to my
questions on this issue after clearly stating that he would during a live
Web chat - see footnote (i) below, and (2) after personally discussing the
issue with Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, and his
agreement to respond to my written questions, I was subsequently contacted
by a PC from his office stating that the matter is being dealt with by New
Scotland Yard's Specialist Operations Department (SO15) at Empress State
Building. I was advised to contact SO15 to pursue my enquiries.
Accordingly I messaged the Department but, notwithstanding their
commitment to respond within 24 hours, have not received either an
acknowledgement or response from them.    

For your reference, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer's office has a
record of all communication relating to my enquiries. Rather than list
them in this submission, I'll highlight the following:

      ....in light of the exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote
and rejection rate during the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election (41%
and 14% respectively), there is ample justification for the Metropolitan
Police to:    

1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted a postal vote to
establish whether any were forced to vote under duress (a clear risk in
postal voting).    

2. Examine each of the 135 rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent
signatures/submissions, prosecute as appropriate.    
What action has been taken?"    

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to
the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party.  In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to achieve this
deadline.  If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

R. Loizou
Policy and Support Officer
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Mills

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012070000809

I write in connection with your request for information  which was
received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 05/07/2012.  I note
you seek access to the following information:

* Sir, I refer you to (extracts from) communiques between myself and the
Metropolitan Police concerning alleged postal voting fraud prior to
Tower Hamlets' bi-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown, and am
requesting information on any ongoing investigation into the alleged
postal voting fraud. If relevant, also, when details of your
investigation will be released to the general public.     For the
public record, I'll make it perfectly clear that (1) the Metropolitan
Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe has not responded to my questions on
this issue after clearly stating that he would during a live Web chat
- see footnote (i) below, and (2) after personally discussing the
issue with Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, and his
agreement to respond to my written questions, I was subsequently
contacted by a PC from his office stating that the matter is being
dealt with by New Scotland Yard's Specialist Operations Department
(SO15) at Empress State Building. I was advised to contact SO15 to
pursue my enquiries. Accordingly I messaged the Department but,
notwithstanding their commitment to respond within 24 hours, have not
received either an acknowledgement or response from them.     For your
reference, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer's office has a record of
all communication relating to my enquiries. Rather than list them in
this submission, I'll highlight the following:     ....in light of the
exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote and rejection rate
during the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election (41% and 14%
respectively), there is ample justification for the Metropolitan
Police to:     1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted
a postal vote to establish whether any were forced to vote under
duress (a clear risk in postal voting).     2. Examine each of the 135
rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent signatures/submissions,
prosecute as appropriate.     What action has been taken?    

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), we have 20 working
days to respond to a request for information unless we are considering
whether the information requested is covered by one of the 'qualified
exemptions' (exemptions which must be tested against the public interest
before deciding whether they apply to the information in question).

Where we are considering the public interest test against the application
of relevant qualified exemptions, Section 17(2)(b) provides that we can
extend the 20 day deadline.

Section 17(2) provides:

2) Where-
a) in relation to any request for information, a public authority is, as
respects any information, relying on a claim-
i) that any provision of Part II which relates to the duty to confirm or
deny and is not specified in section 2(3) is relevant to the request, or
ii) that the information is exempt information only by virtue of a
provision not specified in section 2(3), and
b) at the time when the notice under subsection (1) is given to the
applicant, the public authority (or, in a case falling within section
66(3) or (4), the responsible authority) has not yet reached a decision as
to the application of subsection (1)(b) or (2)(b) of section 2,
the notice under subsection (1) must indicate that no decision as to the
application of that provision has yet been reached and must contain an
estimate of the date by which the authority expects that such a decision
will have been reached.

I am sorry to inform you that we have not been able to complete our
response to your request by the date originally stated, as we are
currently considering whether 'qualified exemptions' apply to the
information you have requested. As a result we will not be able to respond
within 20 working days.

For your information we are considering the following exemption(s):

Section 30
Section 40

I can now advise you that the amended date for a response is 29th August
2012

May I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

If you are dissatisfied with this response please read the attached paper
entitled Complaint Rights which explains how to make a complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me at the address at the top of this letter, quoting the reference
number above.

Yours sincerely

Karen Fox
Information Manager
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.  

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
 Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 700

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr. Mills,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012070000809
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 05/07/2012.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

Information in relation to any ongoing investigation into alleged postal
voting fraud, at the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-elections in Tower
Hamlets. When, if relevant, details of the investigation will be released
to the general public.

In light of the exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote and
rejection rate during the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election (41% and
14% respectively), there is ample justification for the Metropolitan
Police to:    

1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted a postal vote to
establish whether any were forced to vote under duress (a clear risk in
postal voting).

2. Examine each of the 135 rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent
signatures/submissions, prosecute as appropriate.

What action has been taken?

A Detective Sergeant from Specialist Operations visited you on Friday
20/07/2012 to talk through the issues and investigation in general terms.
He confirmed that we are investigating specific allegations from the
Banglatown and Spitalfields bi-election and are consulting with CPS.
Should you wish to discuss the general issues in detail further he will be
available to assist you. I believe he supplied you with his contact
details.

As the investigation is still in progress I am not able to state when the
result of the investigation will be released to the general public.

DECISION

Before I explain the decisions I have made in relation your request, I
thought that it would be helpful to outline the parameters set out by the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) within which a request for
information can be answered.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 creates a statutory right of access to
information held by public authorities. A public authority in receipt of a
request must, if permitted, state under Section 1(a) of the Act, whether
it holds the requested information and, if held, then communicate that
information to the applicant under Section 1(b) of the Act.

The right of access to information is not without exception and is subject
to a number of exemptions which are designed to enable public authorities
to withhold information that is unsuitable for release. Importantly the
Act is designed to place information into the public domain, that is, once
access to information is granted to one person under the Act, it is then
considered public information and must be communicated to any individual
should a request be received.

Section 17(1) of the Act provides:

(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information,
is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating
to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim
that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying
with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies.

In accordance with the Act, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for
this particular request. The Metropolitan Police Service can confirm that
it holds the information you requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following
exemptions:

Section 30(1)(a)(i)(ii)(b)(c) Criminal Investigations
Section 40(2)(a)(b)(3)(a)(i) Personal Information

Section 30 Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities

(1)        Information held by a public authority is exempt information if
it has at any time         been held by the authority for the purposes of—

(a)        any investigation which the public authority has a duty to
conduct with a view to it         being ascertained—

(i) whether a person should be charged with an offence, or
(ii) whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it

This is a qualified exemption for which I am required to conduct a public
interest test and provide evidence of harm.

Section 40 Personal information

(1) Any information to which a request for information relates is exempt
information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not
the data subject.

This is an absolute exemption and therefore I am not required to undertake
any further assessment.

 (2) Information relates to third parties and it is absolute, releasing
information to someone other than the data subject will almost always
infringe the data protection principles.

Under Section 40(2) and (3) of the Act, Public Authorities are able to
withhold information where its release would identify any living
individual and breach the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998
(DPA).
I have applied this exemption in that the names of the individuals
identified by this documentation constitutes personal data which would, if
released, be in breach of the rights provided by the DPA.

The eight principles of the DPA govern the way in which data controllers
must manage personal data. Under principle one of the DPA, personal data
must be processed fairly and lawfully. I consider that the release of the
names of officers/staff and/or other persons that are recorded within the
requested documentation constitutes personal data. The release of this
information would be unfair as the persons concerned would have no
reasonable expectation that the MPS would make this information publicly
available.

In reaching my decision, I have, in each case, given due regard to
condition one and six of Schedule 2 of the DPA.
 
Condition one of the DPA requires that consideration is given to whether
consent for disclosure has been given whilst Condition six requires that
consideration is given to whether disclosure would constitute legitimate
processing of that data. Having considered both conditions, I have
established that no consent is present or would likely be received to
release this information. I have also found that the release of this
information would be unjust as no allegation has been proven against any
person.

This exemption is both absolute and class based. When this exemption is
applied, it is accepted that harm would result from disclosure. There is
accordingly no requirement to consider whether release of information is
in the public interest or demonstrate what harm would result from
disclosure.

Section 30(1)(a)(i)(ii)(b)(c) Criminal Investigations

Evidence of Harm

In considering whether or not this information should be disclosed, I have
considered the potential harm that could be caused by disclosure.

FOIA is considered to be a release to the world as once the information is
published the public authority in this case the MPS has no control over
what use is made of that information.  Whilst not questioning the motives
of the applicant it could be of use to those who seek to disrupt an
investigation as they may identify Police tactics and the approaches
taken. To release any further details of the investigation would enable
any member of the public to define the tactics used in the investigation
and identify police tactics.

The effect of this information being available to the applicant and more
importantly those who might wish to circumvent the investigation  would
require a full review of investigation tactics. These investigative tools
have been tried and tested over a number of years and these methods have
varied very little over the intervening years.

The release of such information would also reveal policing tactics
regarding who was of interest to the police generally.  This could be to
the detriment of providing an efficient policing service and a failure in
providing a duty of care to all members of the public.

Public Interest Test

Factors favouring release for S30 –The release of such information would
provide an insight into the police service and enable the public to have
better understanding of effectiveness of the police. The release of
information could allow the public to make informed decisions about how
police gather intelligence and carry out investigations. This would
greatly assist in the quality and accuracy of public debate, which would
otherwise likely be steeped in rumour and speculation.

Factors against release for S30 – By confirming whether individuals or
groups are of interest would hinder the prevention or detection of crime.
The MPS would not wish to reveal who, what and when intelligence is
recorded and the extent of their investigations as this would clearly
undermine the law enforcement and investigative process. This would impact
on police resources and more crime and terrorist incidents would be
committed, placing individuals at risk.

Balance test -. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of
policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is
appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by various
groups or individuals involved in electoral fraud, there is a very strong
public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and
operations in the highly sensitive area of electoral fraud, crime
prevention, public disorder and terrorism prevention.  
As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is
appropriate and balanced  this will only be overridden in exceptional
circumstances. The areas of police interest is a sensitive issue that
reveals local intelligence therefore it is our opinion that for these
issues the balancing test for giving details of the ongoing investigation
into these allegations of postal electoral fraud and whether these
allegations  were of interest to the Police Service is not made out.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
 contact me providing  the reference number above.  

Yours sincerely,

Karen Fox
Information Manager

Total Policing is the Met's commitment to be on the streets and in your
communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are
here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/metpoliceuk
Twitter: @metpoliceuk

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