Lib Dem councillor found guilty of election fraud

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT Mohammed Bashir has been found guilty of fixing the 2012 Maybury and Sheerwater ward election.

Mr Bashir, who had an election petition brought to him by former Labour candidate Mohammad Ali following a narrow victory in last year’s count, has been banned from office for five years.

Richard Mawrey QC issued his verdict at the civic offices on Monday following a seven day High Court trial.

Mr Bashir used fake names to bloat the postal vote polls. In some cases, households – often owned by Mr Bashir – would have as many as 11 voters.

Speaking to the News & Mail immediately after the knockout blow was delivered, Mr Ali said: “This case is a victory for the public. I have gained nothing from this result, and you cannot believe the strain it has put on my family life.

“But I am happy that I no longer have to carry this burden.”

Mr Bashir has been ordered to cover all legal costs and could yet face criminal prosecution.

Mr Mawrey highlighted in his report the abnormally high number of late registrations, multiple registrations in the same property, a high proportion of postal votes to personal votes, and a higher-than average turnout figures.

The electoral commissioner, who was in jovial mood as he delivered his verdict, said: “The best that can be said of the postal voting figures in themselves is that they are ambiguous.”

A total of 43.9 per cent of voters allegedly had their say in April 2012 – this represented an eight per cent spike when compared to the 35.81 per cent average for the rest of the borough.

The turnout for the ward was also high at 41.25 per cent, more than 10 per cent higher than the average for the entire UK.

Mr Mawrey condemned Mr Bashir’s actions, which share a great likeness to corruption cases in Birmingham and Slough.

“Mr Bashir’s case that he ran what was virtually a one-man campaign was entirely fanciful,” said Mr Mawrey.

“It may well be the case that Mr Bashir himself did not personally soil his hands with the dirty business of registering false voters, forging their votes and harvesting the votes of other registered electors without their knowledge or consent.

“His posture of complete ignorance of the activities of his extended family and his associates became more and more strained as the evidence proceeded.

“I can summarise by saying that I heard a great deal of evidence about the properties. I have to say, regretfully, that a considerable amount of the evidence called on behalf of Mr Bashir was palpably untrue.”

Full reaction in Thursday’s News & Mail.

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