Friday, April 28, 2006

LibDem Candidate Arrested in Birmingham

From the Birmingham Evening Mail...

BIRMINGHAM'S Liberal Democrats today insisted their candidate would still stand in next week's local elections - despite his arrest in a postal vote fraud inquiry. But Labour Party leader Sir Albert Bore denounced the decision and called for Mohammed Khan, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Nechells, to stand down immediately. He said voters would be bewildered at being offered a candidate whose reputation was allegedly "in tatters". Coun Khan, aged 52, was arrested at Stechford police station last night on suspicion of postal vote fraud and released on police bail. The arrest comes a day after his 50-year-old wife, Naseem Akhtar, was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the election process. Liberal Democrat leader Paul Tilsley said today the candidate would still stand in the May 4 election. Coun Tilsley said: "I am meeting Mr Khan today. The outcome of that will probably be that, if elected, which is quite possible, membership of the Liberal Democrat group would be suspended until the outcome of the police investigation is known. I take this issue very seriously. The police investigation is over two or three votes and any fraud is unacceptable - if found guilty Mr Khan will be immediately expelled from the party." Labour leader Sir Albert said voters would be confused over why Mr Khan was being allowed to stand as a candidate while facing a police investigation. And he called on the Liberal Democrats to remove him. "It is very unwise of the Liberal Democrats to allow him to continue in these circumstances," Sir Albert said. "The electorate in Nechells will be very concerned someone whose reputation appears to be in tatters is standing as a Lib Dem candidate. If I was a voter, I would be very concerned." But in a tit-for-tat exchange, the Liberal Democrats claimed that Labour's 2004 fraud involved thousands of forged ballots, whereas this latest probe surrounded a mere handful. It is claimed that Mr Khan, of Hob Moor Road, Bordesley Green, was using a second address, in nearby Ronald Road, to collect extra postal ballots. Police carried out searches at the two addresses where they found a quantity of postal vote forms. The allegations are strongly denied by Mr Khan, a travel agent who is making his third attempt to gain election to Birmingham City Council. He has refused to comment on the allegations, but his agent, Council-lor Shaukat Ali Khan (Lib Dem, Bordesley Green) issued a strenuous denial. He said: "It is all a misunderstanding and will be sorted out. I am 100 per cent confident there is no wrongdoing at all. It is just a publicity stunt to smear Mr Khan's reputation." Labour Party rivals claim they have a dossier of evidence linked to a third address to which votes are being diverted. Senior Labour Councillor Tahir Ali (Nechells) confirmed that a file was handed to police last night. Police were today investigating an alleged attack on a journalist working for the Mail's sister newspaper The Birmingham Post. The assault claims come after the reporter visted Mr Khan's address, in Hob Moor Road, on Wednesday night.

9 comments:

The Remittance Man said...

At the risk of being accused of soemthing I am not, has anyone else noted how a large proportion of these candidates, accused of, and sometimes convicted for, postal ballot fraud seem to come from a fairly limited geographic region, globally speaking?

Louise said...

Of course he can't stand down. The legal time frame for withdrawal of nomination has long since past.

But the Lib Dems can suspend him from their party and not allow him the whip if elected.

Sorry, the election law nerd in me is being rankled today.

ContraTory said...

What, Birmingham, England?

The remittance Man said...

Close, but no cigar, Contratory.

Anonymous said...

hence the phrase "sub-continental practices"

Jock Coats said...

Given the number of complaints lodged about candidates across the country at this time of year I think it fair for a party to take a view in the first instance as to whether it sounds like they are vexatious or not and that seems to be what has happened.

Talking of vexatious complaints, a friend of mine who won a county bye-election in Oxford was reported to the police by the local Tories because a tiny fraction of the print run of one of her leaflets had slipped in the Riso and lost the imprint off the bottom of the page.

They took a year to formally clear her (because they have better things to do) - was she supposed to be suspended from the group and so on during all that time? Nonsense.

Someone close to the action has to take a view.

kingbongo said...

But Jock - from your other post it seems the tories here had no choice but to lodge a complaint.

It was a basic mistake and all that. Electoral law is like any other law, it is there to deal with criminal intent not errors.

Judging by what is going on in Tower Hamlets Labour's postal voting fiasco is going to become a serious issue. It comes to something when Respect are the party having to do the legwork in identifying this mass attempt at fraud in London.

Bob Piper said...

Albert Bore is just plain wrong. He is doing the same thing that the Lib Dem eccentric self-publicist John Hemming did last year when he was the Tories lap-dog as Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council. Hemming called for Labour to expel councillors who had been accused of postal vote fraud, but not found guilty of it. If Coun. Khan is found guilty of fraud... that is the time for actions to be taken against him.

Of course, the sanctimonious Hemming seems strangely silent over the allegations of Lib Dem fraud on his blog now.

Radders said...

Lib Dem candidate finally cleared of all charges with no case to answer:
http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/05/21/nechells-candidate-cleared-of-forging-votes-65233-23677345/