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Police probe into voting fraud claim

POLICE have been called in to investigate voting fraud in the Hyndburn Council elections.

POLICE have been called in to investigate voting fraud in the Hyndburn Council elections.

Accrington police chief, Inspector Julian Platt, confirmed this week that his force was conducting an inquiry in partnership with top council officers after allegations were made about "voting irregularities" in Central ward.

David Welsby, council managing director, said part of the joint investigation to establish whether fraud occurred would involve voters being questioned about the election.

A sample of Central ward voters will be asked for their opinions about the safety of the vote, and if they voted at all.

It is believed the allegations centre around the fraudulent signing of ballot papers.

A decision to pursue the investigation was made last Friday after an emergency meeting was called between Mr Welsby and Inspector Platt, who said: "We are just looking at it at the moment and there is nothing to suggest criminal activity."

"Compared to some of the other inquiries in the North West, this is not of the same magnitude."

He said the police were co-operating in an examination of the council's "systems and procedures", and if evidence was found of criminal activity Accrington CID would take over the probe.

Mr Welsby added that councillors were being given a chance to air their views but so far none had come forward.

He said: "It is essential for evidence to be brought forward, if there is any, instead of circulating rumour."

The complaint was made by County Councillor Doreen Pollitt, election agent for Labour's Sardar Ali, who lost his seat to Tory Allah Dad by 137 votes.

A council spokesman said: "Clearly, it is in the interests of all concerned that the integrity of the election is confirmed."

"To this end we have met with Inspector Julian Platt of the Accrington police division and agreed that we will jointly undertake a series of steps to 'quality assure' the election process."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist