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Petition for second EU referendum under scrutiny for fraudulent signatures

Petition for second EU referendum under scrutiny for fraudulent signatures
The union flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, in central London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Washington: The petition calling for a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) which has gained more than three million signatures is under investigation by parliamentary authorities for possible manipulations.

The House of Commons petitions committee has confirmed that 77,000 signatures were added fraudulently and have been removed and the committee is now continually monitoring the petition for any suspicious activity.

The request for another referendum on the parliament’s official petitions website should have been signed only by British and UK residents but data showed signatories from other countries as well, including Iceland, the Cayman Islands and Tunisia.

According to the officials, in some cases there are more signatures than total population like in the Vatican City that has a total population of just 800 but over 39,000 residents of the city appeared to have signed the petition.

Helen Jones, the chair of the petitions committee, said that those signatures discovered to be fake would be “removed” and said such fraud “undermines the process of parliamentary democracy”, reports the Guardian.

She said: “The Government Digital Service are taking action to investigate and, where necessary, remove fraudulent signatures. It is clear that this petition is very important to a substantial number of people. The petitions committee will be considering the petition at its meeting next week, and will decide whether or not to schedule a debate on it.”

The website’s only identity ‘test’ is a simple checkbox asking to confirm you are either a British citizen or that you are a resident of the UK. While postcodes are required, street addresses are not and no proof of ID is needed.

The petition was started by leave activist William Oliver Healey in May, when polls suggested remain would win. Parliament must consider all petitions that reach a threshold of 100,000 votes for a debate. (ANI)