Candidate Ali confident of victory in election fraud case

A JUDGE has been appointed election commissioner after a Labour candidate won the first round in a High Court fraud battle.

Mr Justice Mawrey and Woking Borough Council will review the Maybury and Sheerwater Liberal Democrat ward ballot papers after allegations of illegal votes in the May elections.

Labour candidate Mohammad Ali  filed a civil case against Lib-Dem Mohammed Bashir after losing to him by just 16 votes at the May 3 count. He is petitioning to have the count declared null and void and is seeking a new election for the ward.

BATTLE - the first round went to Mr Ali
BATTLE – the first round went to Mr Ali

Rather than defend the fraud allegations, Mr Bashir and Lib-Dem supporters applied to have the petition struck out.

But counsel for Mr Ali argued that it was a matter of great public interest and should proceed.

Woking Borough Council representatives did not oppose scrutiny of the votes and Mrs Justice Slade and Mr Justice Nichol presiding at the Royal Courts on The Strand dismissed the Lib-Dem application.

The Lib-Dem party had to foot the initial High Court costs of both Mr Ali and Woking Borough Council (thought to be £20,000 to £25,000).

The party said they respected the High Court decision and told Mr Bashir he has to act on his own behalf. He applied for Legal Aid and, if granted and depending on the level of scrutiny, fees could total £500,000 of taxpayers’ money.

Mr Ali added: “We have our evidence ready. I’m not worried about it but just wish it hadn’t taken so long – we are still waiting to hear the outcome of whether Mr Bashir will get Legal Aid.”

The next step will be for the election commissioner to set a date for, and decide on the level of, scrutiny of votes.

Mr Ali said: “Hopefully this will take place in the next two or three weeks but the location – Woking council offices or the High Court offices in London – is yet to be decided.

“If more than 16 ballot papers are found to be illegal or one is linked directly to being influenced by Mr Bashir, this should be sufficient evidence to overturn the election result.

“The matter will then go to trial at a court in Surrey.”

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