THE investigation into electoral fraud in Slough intensified yesterday as yet another member of staff working for the borough council was placed under suspicion.
The member of staff is understood to have so far evaded dismissal and prosecution after denying their involvement. The investigation however, continues, with one source close to the council saying that the individual is expected to be dismissed over the coming days.
The development comes following the arrest and conviction of two members of staff for their involvement in a serious case of postal vote fraud.
Staff members Zakhria Dar and Natalia Glowacka had volunteered to be canvassers and to knock on the doors of people who had not filled in electoral registration forms. They were tasked with getting residents to complete the vital information for the council and for residents who would be unable to vote without it.
Zakhria Dar and Natalia Glowacka appeared in the Magistrates Court after attempting to rob the British electorate of their voice.
The pair had volunteered to be canvassers and to knock on the doors of people who had not filled in electoral registration forms. They were tasked with getting the residents to complete the vital information for the council and for residents who would be unable to vote without it.
However, instead of filling out the forms with the correct information the crooked duo – who it is claimed are both Labour supporters – filled them in with false information and forged signatures.
Slough Council – who have so far handled the incident impeccably – said in a statement that:
“The forms were submitted to the electoral team who realised very quickly something was wrong during a routine sample check where the information did not match that already on the council system. A series of similar looking signatures were also discovered.
As a result more checks were conducted and it was discovered a large number of forms contained false information which had been completed by the employees who had been trusted with the job, rather than the named householder”.
Zakhria Dar, 23, of Oatlands Drive, Manor Park, admitted one count of fraud on between 24 September and 1 December, 2018, and was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 12 November, 2019. He was a housing officer at the time of the offence and resigned from his role after he was suspended during an investigation.
Natalia Glowacka, 26, of Trelawney Avenue, Langley, also admitted one count of fraud between 24 September and 1 December, 2018. At the time she was employed as a council housing officer, but resigned after being suspended during the investigation.
She was sentenced on 12 December and ordered to complete a 12 month community order, 50 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation days. She was also ordered to pay £800 in costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
VoteWatch understands that at least 180 fraudulent postal votes have been unearthed so far.
Slough has long been considered a ‘rotten borough’, with Sir Eric Pickles listing it among a handful of constituencies at high risk of electoral fraud and the political landscape blighted by what has been described as ‘third world’ tactics such as vote fraud and intimidation.
Speaking to VoteWatch, Rik, a local resident, said: “We were aware of large scale phantom registration in East Reading, and on polling day people would come in by train from Slough to vote as those people.
“Taxi drivers confirmed they had people going from the Station to the polling station and back again. It was reported to the Reading ERO but nothing was ever done as it was hard to prove”.
Another resident has allegedly revealed to a Daily Express reporter her claim that she was pressured to hand over her postal vote, while the story of ‘widespread’ postal harvesting before the general election was allegedly dropped after being de-prioritised for other stories.
The Labour Party in Slough have persistently opposed voter ID.
Cllr Wayne Strutton, group leader of Slough Conservative Councillor Group, said: “We believe there is an issue in Slough as in other areas with regards to electoral fraud. We have long advocated that this is a crucial issue which needs addressing. However there is a long way to go to eliminate electoral fraud in Slough and elsewhere.”
VoteWatch is now in touch with the branch of a political party from Slough and will be visiting the borough shortly after Christmas to carry out a full investigation.