POLITICS

#ThanetRigged Police Investigation Lasts Just Hours As Officers Find No Evidence Of Fraud

13/05/2015 20:01 BST | Updated 13/05/2015 21:59 BST

The news that police were investigating whether Nigel Farage lost his parliamentary election because of fraud stoked the conspiracy theorists behind the #ThanetRigged hashtag.

But hours after the investigation became public and stoked their imagination, Kent Police said they had found no evidence to back it up.

Claims of suspicious behaviour surfaced following a lengthy delay in declaring the seat's results at Margate's Winter Gardens, which eventually happened hours after it was originally expected.

Conspiracy theories were also fuelled because Ukip won control of the district council, despite Farage losing.

Kent Police said the investigation was launched after someone from outside the county became concerned "due to speculation on social media" and contacted them.

A spokesman said: "Initial inquiries by officers have been carried out and so far no evidence of electoral fraud has been found."

But their conclusions left some unconvinced.

One Tweeter said the Tories had stolen 200000 ballot papers and had shut down the police investigation.

Others suspected the only reason police investigated in the first place was to fulfill an obligation.

Farage lost out in the seat to the Conservatives' Craig Mackinlay, who racked up 18,838 votes to Farage's 16,026.

Thanet District Council said in a statement: "A single complaint has been lodged with Kent Police by a member of the public, from outside of the county, with concerns around the Thanet parliamentary election - following speculation on social media.

"Kent Police has an obligation to follow up this complaint. Thanet District Council is not under investigation for election fraud.

"The council's returning officer is satisfied that the correct processes were followed and a member of the Electoral Commission was present at the election in Thanet.

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"In response to the speculation on social media: Thanet's parliamentary boundary is larger than the district boundary - extending into the Canterbury and Dover area - so comparing the parliamentary and district election results is misleading.

"There were no lost or stolen ballot papers."

Farage quit as Ukip leader after he failed to win the seat but his resignation was rejected by the party's national executive committee.

He remains as leader and has said he still wanted to be in parliament and would seek a by-election to stand in.

Nigel Farage on the campaign trail