Electoral Canvasser Convicted Of Fraud

Forms were completed by the same person

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A canvasser working on electoral registrations in Merton has been convicted of fraud after council staff noticed several forms had been completed by the same person.

Godwin Laniyan, from Castlecombe Drive, Southfields, was working as a temporary voter registration canvasser before the 2010 General Election, Southwark Crown court heard.

He was employed by Merton Borough council to visit homes in the Longthornton ward in October 2009 to ensure the electoral register was up-to-date.

But electoral services staff noticed that electoral registration forms appeared to have been completed by the same person. An investigation found that voter registration forms appeared to have been completed fraudulently.

The jury found him guilty of fraud for dishonestly claiming to have completed his duties. He was also prosecuted for nine counts of fraudulently completing voter registration forms.

Laniyan, aged 61, was fined £500. In evidence he told the court he did not make the visits to the homes of residents who had failed to return their voter registration forms. He said a since deceased friend had carried out the doorstep visits and fraudulently completed the forms.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said afterwards: "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."

October 3, 2011