Parliamentary authorities have removed around 77,000 allegedly fake signatures from an online petition which calls for a re-run of the Brexit referendum – with hackers taking responsibility for adding thousands of counterfeit names. It follows a formal inquiry launched less than three hours earlier, amid claims some of the more than three and a half million signatures it has gained since Friday may be fraudulent. A statement posted on the House of Commons’ petitions committee Twitter account on Sunday afternoon said: “We are investigating allegations of fraudulent use of the petitions site. Signatures found to be fraudulent will be removed”.
It came as the ‘EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum’ petition posted on the UK Government and Parliament Petitions website showed a suspicious number of signatures attributed to places outside the UK – in some cases more than their total population.
Some 39,411 residents of Vatican City, home to Pope Francis, appeared to have signed the petition by Sunday morning, despite the tiny city state having a total population of just 800.