London election fraud probe over ‘fake leaflets’

14:11 13 May 2012

Archant

Claims of election fraud in south-west London are being probed by police.

Fake election leaflets purportedly from a Liberal Democrat candidate were distributed one night before a council by-election in Richmond Upon Thames, on May 4.

The flyers, featuring the logo and font of the Lib Dems, reportedly featured changed content - including an endorsement by candidate Jane Dodds for a controversial local planning scheme.

Lib Dems claimed that fake leaflets pledged Ms Dodds’ support for a development to be used for housing homeless immigrants, or to become a high-rise block.

The Liberal Democrats went on to lose a closely fought contest for the fringe seat. The Conservatives held the ward they won by 14 votes in 2010.

The content of the flyers undermined her campaign and may have influenced the final result of the poll, said the leader of the Liberal Democrats group.

“They were clearly designed to defect support from our candidate by purporting to back things which were unpopular,” Stephen Knight said.

“The result was close, it may have gone the other way if this had not happened.”

The Conservatives won the poll by only 146 votes.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers were looking into the claims. He said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of an allegation of a breach of election legislation in Richmond.

“We are currently making an assessment to ascertain whether there is evidence to support the complaint.”

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