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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 19:10 GMT
Vote rigging councillors jailed
Mozaquir Ali and Manzur Hussain
The pair were convicted following a three-week trial
Two Liberal Democrat councillors from Lancashire have been jailed for trying to rig a local election.

Manzur Hussain, 58, and Mozaquir Ali, 44, defrauded dozens of voters during the 2004 local government elections.

The men, who were sitting on Burnley Council at the time, collected signed proxy vote forms door-to-door and filled them in themselves.

At Preston Crown Court they were each sentenced to 18 months for falsifying postal proxy votes.

Detectives in Lancashire were alerted by the returning officer at Burnley council, Gillian Taylor, after a massive increase in proxy applications in the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme ward.

Both councillors were arrested in October 2004.

'Exploited a loophole'

A total of 167 proxy votes had been submitted to Burnley town hall on behalf of people who were unaware of what was going on. Usually, the number of proxy votes submitted is about 10.

The court heard Mr Ali was declared the winner by 369 votes, and that the rigged votes had not made a difference to his victory.

Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said it was "ironic" that many of the voters who were duped said they would have voted Lib Dem anyway.

The judge went on to say the councillors had "exploited a loophole" in which the law did not require proxy vote applicants to complete the form themselves.

He urged the Electoral Commission and the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to close the loophole.

Both men were convicted of conspiracy to defraud Burnley Council's returning officer following a three-week trial at Preston Crown Court last month.

'Vote rigging' trial is adjourned
06 Oct 06 |  Lancashire
Councillors 'had vote rig deal'
25 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Police inquiry over proxy votes
09 Jun 04 |  Lancashire

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