03 May 2012
Police outside a Tower Hamlets polling station called reinforcements today after a candidate alleged that he had been threatened by activists from rival parties.
Chris Smith, standing for the Greens in the London Assembly elections, claimed that one activist threatened to “punch his lights out” when he complained about the crowd handing out Respect and Labour leaflets outside St Matthias Primary, off Brick Lane.
Officers were today guarding polling stations across Tower Hamlets after the Met launched a formal investigation into allegations of electoral fraud in the borough. Police were called in after reports of voter intimidation outside polling stations at previous elections.
It was feared today that activists were “harassing” potential voters. Mr Smith said: “I came down here at about 10am and there were at least 20 Labour and Respect activists handing out leaflets just outside. Election rules state very clearly that each party is only allowed one teller outside each polling station, the rest must be a safe distance away.
“I complained to the official inside and when I came back out the Respect guy started mouthing off to me. When I told him what they were doing is not allowed, he threatened to punch my lights out.
“It’s amazing that this is still going on around here. The groups that gather outside are very intimidating. With all the problems we’ve had in Tower Hamlets this is the last thing we need.”