Alert staff at Merton Council were quick to pounce on a temporary voter registration canvasser who committed fraud before the General Election 2010.
Mr Laniyan of Castlecombe Drive, Southfields was temporarily employed by Merton Council to visit homes in the Longthornton Ward in October 2009 to ensure the electoral register was up to date. Vigilant electoral services staff noticed that electoral registration forms appeared to have been completed by the same person. Internal Audit carried out a detailed investigation and found that voter registration forms appeared to have been completed fraudulently.
Mr Godwin Laniyan, 61, was fined £500 on 23 September after the jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of fraud for dishonestly claiming to have completed his duties as a voter registration canvasser before the General Election of 2010.
The register of electors is fundamental to the democratic and political process, ensuring all eligible Merton residents are able to vote. After the concerns were raised a second canvasser visited the area concerned to ensure the accuracy of the register and safeguard the rights of residents to vote at the 2010 General Election.
Mr Laniyan was also prosecuted for nine counts of fraudulently completing voter registration forms. In evidence Mr Laniyan stated he did not make the crucial visits to the homes of residents who had failed to return their voter registration forms. He said that a since deceased friend had carried out the doorstep visits and fraudulently completed the forms.
Prior to completing the canvass, all temporary voter registration canvassers including Mr Laniyan received training on how to carry out canvasser duties and also received manuals which emphasised the importance of the canvass. As well as instructions on completing the work, the manual highlighted the legal duties held by canvassers and enforcement action taken if they fail to meet these standards.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “It is crucial that the electoral register is up to date and accurate to ensure that our residents have their say during elections. All our canvassers go through detailed training and the importance of accuracy and honesty is highlighted throughout. I’d like to thank the officers at Merton Council who spotted the fraudulent forms, it is their quality work that offers residents an open and honest election process.
“We will not allow the excellent work undertaken by the whole canvass team to be brought into disrepute by any individual. Anyone found to be undermining this trust by making false returns will be referred to Merton’s Internal Audit for prosecution and any other appropriate actions.’
For more information on how to register to vote visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/registering or call 020 8545 3407.
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 4654