One of the golden rules of local government is that if you have a bit of a cock-up, you say as little as possible.

This policy appears to be firmly in place as Barnet Council will only say enquiries continue into the postal votes mystery.

Notebook students will recall the controversial decision not to continue with a campaign urging residents to apply for postal votes and distributing application forms to every house.

The letters and forms for this year's campaign were already prepared when chief executive Leo Boland decided it was not necessary to distribute them.

Despite this, some letters and forms were distributed in New Barnet. The council announced an immediate inquiry. And it has said no more.

The whole issue has become very controversial. The Tories complain that the failure to continue with the Barnet campaign puts them at a disadvantage.

More generally, there is concern that new arrangements make fraud and deception easier.

In last week's instalment of the saga I didn't have room to give details of what has happened in Hackney. This troubled borough now has former Barnet chief executive Max Caller as its supremo.

Two of its councillors have just been jailed after being found guilty of electoral fraud. A Conservative was sentenced to six months and a Liberal Democrat to four months.

The case concerned proxy votes, many for elderly people, cast in the 1998 local elections.

Wood Green Crown Court was told the exact number of votes involved was not known, but it might have cost Labour overall control of the council.

Both councillors have resigned and by-elections will take place on June 7. If Labour should win both seats, as it predicts, then it will gain overall control.

Being in charge of Hackney Council may not be the greatest prize in the world, but this episode shows that electoral fraud is a live issue.