‘Conspiracy of silence’

TORIES claim there is a conspiracy of silence over election fraud in Halifax.

The allegation has rocked Calderdale’s top policeman after extensive investigations last year into the claims.

Halifax Conservatives have now asked the country’s top civil servant, Gus O’Donnell, to investigate.

Coun Roger Taylor (Con, Northowram/Shelf), a member of West Yorkshire Police Authority, has expressed concerns including why allegations about the leaking of sensitive postal vote information from the Returning Officer’s Department to Labour activisits had not been referred to police.

He said: “There is a conspiracy of silence by the police and council officials. Nothing has been done to get to the bottom of what has gone on. Frankly they are all in denial and hope the matter will go away.”

Divisional Commander Chief Supt Alan Ford said he had been left perplexed by the latest development.

The row centred on Park ward following last May’s elections.

After two police investigations officers found no evidence to take further action.

But the Tories, including defeated candidate Philip Allott, continue to raise concerns about wrongdoing which brought a strong response from Chief Supt Ford.

“I am perplexed and frustrated, that despite a prompt, comprehensive investigation that has been praised by the Electoral Commission and the most detailed feedback possible to Mr Allott and his Party, facturally incorrect statements that have been repeatedly corrected continue to be pedalled,” he said.

Chief Supt Ford said Mr Allott and his colleagues acknowledged on November 5 that there was no evidence to support the allegations.

“The `dossier` comprised third party community rumour that was presented as fact and the investigation could find absolutely nothing to substantiate any element of the allegations of an organised conspiracy to influence the outcome of the vote,” he said.

The Tories say the move to involve Whitehall follows less than satisfactory answers from Calderdale Council’s Chief Executive Owen Williams and West Yorkshire Police but Chief Insp Ford allegations of conspiracy were wrong.

“This is factually wrong and suggesting such a conspiracy is a very serious allegation to make.”