Saturday, April 28, 2007

LibDem - Fraud

Councillor arrested in vote-fraud Arrested . . . Councillor Khurshid Ahmed

Werneth Councillor Khurshid Ahmed is on police bail after he was arrested on suspicion of election fraud.

Councillor Ahmed (48) is a Liberal Democrat candidate in the May 3 local elections.

He was arrested yesterday. but because he was bailed until July 18 pending further inquiries, he will continue to contest the Werneth seat he has held for three years.

Oldham Police Det Sgt Terry Broome, who specialises in electoral law, confirmed that the investigation centred on a property at 176/178 Manchester Road, Werneth, a former launderette.

He said: “We are making a number of further inquiries involving other properties.”

Councillor Ahmed, of Lacrosse Avenue, is a well known local businessman and former chairman of the Asian Business Association.

He was a Labour party member until a row over local politics in 2003, when he switched to the Liberal Democrats and successfully won his Werneth seat.

At his office at K and Z Textiles in Suffolk Street, Werneth, this morning he declined to comment on his arrest.

Asked if he would continue as a candidate, he referred all inquiries to his party’s leader, Councillor Howard Sykes.

Councillor Sykes said: “Councillor Ahmed voluntarily reported an issue, in person, to the police on Monday related to the electoral roll for his ward after it became apparent that something may be wrong with the registration of an elector that Councillor Ahmed had been asked to validate.

“The police asked him to come back on Tuesday which he did. Councillor Ahmed was then interviewed under caution and bailed until July.”

Councillor Sykes added: “There is no mechanism for Councillor Ahmed not to stand or to step down from the election. I work on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty.”

A police spokesman confirmed: “A 48-year-old man has been arrested in Oldham on suspicion of forgery and providing false information to the electoral registration officer.”

The Chronicle has been told the arrest is in connection with alleged irregularities with postal vote applications at two properties in Werneth.

All candidates and agents met the head of Oldham Police, Chief Supt Caroline Ball, recently when she warned that any allegations of electoral misconduct would be treated seriously.

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