Friday, May 18, 2012

Pervez Choudhry: Must wear tag

Pervez Choudhry (Tory)

Pervez Choudhry, of Tuns Lane, Slough, had married his second wife in Pakistan but was still legally married to his first "arranged" wife.

Choudhry, 54, admitted bigamy at a previous hearing.

He was given a community order with a nighttime curfew, ordered to pay £5,500 to his second wife and fined £750.

Wheelchair-bound Choudhry married his first wife in 1986 and the pair had three children, the court heard.

He said this was an arranged marriage after his family had decided he would wed his first cousin when he was aged 11.

They separated in 2007 but remained legally married, it was heard.

In October 2008 he met his second wife Dr Zabina Shahian but "untruthfully" told her he had been legally divorced, Judge Ian Grainger said.

Two months later the pair married in Pakistan, but she left him over concerns his first marriage may not have legally ended and hired a private detective to investigate.

Choudhry, who vowed to take his case to the Court of Appeal, claimed the religious ceremony in Pakistan was not recognised under UK law.

He told BBC News after the hearing: "I had no intention of deceiving anybody. I was simply trying to create a family unit."

His second wife Dr Shahian said: "I was very devastated [when I found out he was still married].

"My life has been at a standstill. When I met him I took him at face value."

Choudhry defected to the Tories in 2009 after being elected as the Labour candidate for Central Ward.

He was arrested and charged with one count of bigamy in August 2010.

He was suspended from the Conservative Party pending the investigation and stood as an independent, but lost his seat at the election earlier this month.

Rosemary Dickson: misconduct

Rosemary Dickson (Tory)

An investigation will consider allegations of misconduct against a councillor in relation to the Cherkley Court planning application.

Earlier this month councillors granted planning permission for a private members' golf course and luxury hotel at the 19th century estate near Leatherhead.

But following a meeting of the standards committee of Mole Valley District Council, Councillor Rosemary Dickson (Con, Leatherhead South) will be investigated over claims she breached the council's code of conduct.

Council officers recommended refusal of the application, but Mrs Dickson proposed a motion to reject that recommendation at a meeting on April 4, then voted in favour of the final planning application on May 2.

A report from a meeting of the standards committee states: "The complainants allege that Councillor Dickson has breached the rules relating to the declaration of interests and that she was biased/predetermined."

The report, from a meeting on April 30, lists seven issues including: the fact Mrs Dickson's husband's second cousin Joel Cadbury is a director of developer Longshot; her relationship with Longshot's PR advisor Nick Kilby; and allegations of lobbying in favour of the plans.

It also notes that she tabled the motion to reject the advice of council officers; stated in an e-mail to Cherkley Campaign founder Kristina Kenworthy that she did not want to lose her right to vote; and did not fully represent her constituents' views.

A minor point was noted that she lives in Givons Grove, where the residents' company that owns the estate's roads has entered into contracts with Longshot.

The report adds: "When the seven separate complaints were taken as a whole, there was reasonable enough doubt to indicate misconduct and a breach of the council's code of conduct." Mrs Dickson, who retained her council seat at the elections on May 3 with an increased majority, refutes the claims.

She said: "I think it is absolutely appalling that people are able to throw out unfounded allegations without any proof or evidence and I have to go through this."

She said she has never spoken to Mr Cadbury, never overtly lobbied in favour of the application, her e-mail to Mrs Kenworthy was taken out of context and has represented the views of the "silent majority" of constituents.

She added: "I have said all along I didn't really mind about the votes so much, but I did mind very much about my reputation which is being dragged through the mud here."

The committee also considered several complaints about Councillor David Sharland (also Con, Leatherhead South) but decided not to investigate as, though he "demonstrated a predisposition towards the application", his views were not "predetermined".

People are being urged to demand an inquiry into the Cherkley Court application.

The National Planning Casework Unit is considering the issue.

The Cherkley Campaign, Mickleham Parish Council, Friends of Box Hill, Leatherhead Residents’ Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England are asking residents to demand an inquiry.

The unit’s address is 5 St Philip’s Place, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2PW, or e-mail

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kosru Uddin: Threats to kill

Kosru Uddin (Labour)

Kosru Uddin, 45, was alleged to have made threats to kill to Rania Khan, a supporter of Independent mayor Lutfur Rahman.

It was reported that screams were heard coming from the town hall as a “violent fracas” erupted on Wednesday night.

One source told a newspaper: “There was violence. It was just chaos.”

It is the latest crisis to hit Tower Hamlets, which is facing a police investigation into claims of electoral fraud at a council bye-election while there have been claims that Mr Rahman is linked to groups supporting extremism.

Trouble erupted at 11.35pm as people left the chamber at the end of the meeting.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Michael Mills: Benefit Fraud

Michael Mills

Michael Mills, 64, a member of Holywell town council in Flintshire at the time, was caught following a tip-off.

Investigators found that his wife Brenda died in January 2010 but kept observations as he went to the Post Office to claim her benefits.

Mills admitted 14 fraud charges and will be sentenced at a later date.

Flintshire magistrates heard that the couple had been married 44 years but that Mrs Mills had been extremely ill for the last five years of her life, ending her days in hospital.

Prosecutor Henry Hills said that the Department of Work and Pensions received anonymous information that he was continuing to claim his dead wife's benefits.

Checks showed that retirement benefits of £40 a week were still being paid out in her name together with £402 a month disability living allowance - but checks with the registrar showed that she died on 23 January 2010.

Observations showed that he was attending the Greenfield sub post office weekly, and post office records showed he was still claiming benefits as a married man caring for a disabled wife, as well as her benefits.

After Mills was arrested in January this year, it also emerged that he had failed to disclose his miner's pension.


David Gawn: Theft

David Gawn (Labour)

David Gawn, of Lankers Drive, South Harrow, appeared afresh at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on Monday on a charge of the attempted theft of £7,000 belong to Dennis O’Brien on or before August 5 last year.

His case was committed to Harrow Crown Court and the Labour ward councillor for Harrow on the Hill was granted unconditional bail to appear for a plea hearing there on June 22.

Gawn previously appeared on the same charge twice before at the same magistrates’ court, on January 5 and on February 23, before the court discharged the committal of the case to the crown court, on March 15.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally re-charged Gawn and re-registered the case on March 27, leading to Monday’s hearing.

Gawn’s solicitor Julian Prus told the Observer his client will deny the charge.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Sandy Ezekiel: Fraud

Sandy Ezekiel (Conservative)

Former town hall leader Sandy Ezekiel has been accused of fraud and misconduct in a public office will not be suspended from sitting on the council.

Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, who represents the Clitonville East ward for the Conservative Party on Thanet District Council, was charged this week with fraud by abuse of position.

The 59-year-old – real name Maurice –of Crow Hill, Broadstairs, was also charged with misconduct in a public office.

Officers from the Serious Economic Crime Unit of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate also charged 64-year-old Philip Emanuel, of Laleham Gardens, Margate, with aiding and abetting fraud by abuse of position.

Despite the criminal investigation, a council spokeswoman said the authority would not be suspending Cllr Ezekiel from his elected position.

“This is an outstanding criminal matter that is being dealt with by the police,” she said.

Shadow Tory leader Cllr Robert Bayford said no decision had yet been made on whether Cllr Ezekiel would be suspended from the party.

“We haven’t addressed that yet; it’s something the Conservative group in Thanet and the Conservative Party will have to review,” he said.

Police say the alleged offences are related to a property in King Street, Margate, between September 2009 and February 2011.

Senior Crown Prosecutor with the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit Ken Goss said he advised Kent Police to charge the two men.

“It is alleged one of the men improperly used privileged Thanet District Council information in relation to the purchase of two properties,” he said.

“This decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

Both men have been bailed to attend Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, May 8.

Cllr Ezekiel, who was arrested in November, was first elected onto Thanet District Council for the Tory party on May 1, 1999.

The carpet trader became council leader on May 22, 2003, and stepped down on May 13, 2010. He held onto his seat in last year’s elections winning the majority of the votes.

He remains councillor for the Cliftonville East ward and sits on the Joint Transportation Board.