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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 13:50 GMT
Councillor guilty of voting fraud
A Tory councillor has been found guilty of using bogus postal votes to ensure he was voted into office.

Eshaq Khan beat Lydia Simmons, an ex-mayor of Slough, Berkshire, by 119 votes to win the council's Central Ward in last year's local elections.

But a special election High Court, in Slough, convicted Khan and his agents of corrupt and illegal practices.

They are related to applications for registering to vote and postal voting. He was banned from standing again.

The only reasons they came to light at all were the incompetence of the fraudsters and the blatant nature of the frauds
Commissioner Mr Richard Mawry QC

A by-election will now be called in the borough.

Khan has also been expelled from the Conservative Party.

He and his electoral team were found to have created hundreds of false names in the weeks running up to the 3 May election and entered them on the electoral register for the ward, the court heard.

They then made applications for postal votes for these "ghost voters" and used the ballots to vote for Khan.

It was only when Labour party activists, surprised by the Conservative victory in an election which had otherwise been a success for Labour, pressed for an investigation that the fraud was discovered, the hearing was told.

'Completely unacceptable'

Commissioner Mr Richard Mawry QC said: "The only reasons they came to light at all were the incompetence of the fraudsters and the blatant nature of the frauds.

"It would have been pleasant to conclude this judgment by saying that this had now all changed.

"But I cannot. Despite the 2006 Act, the opportunities for easy and effective electoral fraud remain substantially as they were on 4 April, 2005."

Bob Neil, shadow minister for local government, said: "Councillor Eshaq Khan's actions were completely unacceptable and he has been expelled from the Conservative Party."

Fiona Mactaggart, Labour MP for Slough, said: "I am very pleased that we have seen our democracy work."



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