Saturday, July 02 2016

Evening Standard apology to Tower Hamlets election officer

It would seem the Evening Standard has been forced to eat humble pie and apologise for its pathetic attempt to push Boris’s campaign and vilify Ken Livingstone by attacking the officials serving at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets during the London mayoral elections last May.

Yesterday’s paper carried an apology to Isabella Freeman, Election Monitoring Officer of Tower Hamlets, for the paper’s publishing false claims in an article by Peter Dominczak that Ms Freeman “show[ed] a lack of care about alleged voter fraud in Tower Hamlets” and that “Ms Freeman had blamed Muslim voters for the claims by others of voter fraud in Tower Hamlets”.

The apology in full:

“On 2 May we reported allegations that Isabella Freeman, the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal Services) and Monitoring Officer of Tower Hamlets, had shown a lack of care about alleged voter fraud in Tower Hamlets and, on the contrary, was involved in a deliberate cover-up.

“We accept that those allegations were untrue and any suggestion that Isabella Freeman had not overseen the correct procedures was wrong. She has, in fact, taken steps so that the council has the most robust systems and processes permitted within electoral law to ensure the integrity of the electoral register and identify any malpractice.  Tower Hamlets electronically scans 100 per cent of postal votes and rejects any that have non-matching signatures. The article also incorrectly stated that Ms Freeman had blamed Muslim voters for the claims by others of voter fraud in Tower Hamlets. We apologise to Ms Freeman.”

The original article is no longer available on the ES website, but you can read excerpts of it in this blog entry:

“A senior official at Tower Hamlets has rejected allegations of postal vote fraud claiming Muslim voters simply forgot how they signed registration forms.

“Isabella Freeman, borough legal chief, spoke in a bid to explain a spike in rejected ballots following a by-election. The Met has launched an investigation into claims of voter fraud.

“Today the 120,000-a-year monitoring officer was accused of failing to face up to reality and accept voter fraud is on her doorstep ahead of tomorrow’s London-wide elections for the next Mayor and the 25-seat London Assembly. Asked about an increase in rejected postal votes from 10 per cent to 14 per cent, Ms Freeman said this was because voters have forgotten how they signed the registered application in the first place ... this is not unusual in relation to Muslim voters.

“The council would not comment on whether she was referring to language problems, or the use of different surnames within the local community.”

It is quite outrageous that a regional paper rivaling the circulation of the Daily Telegraph should not only dispense with objectivity during election time, but that it should publish articles of such shoddy quality on the eve of a closely contested election race.

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