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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Mayor's ex-adviser denies theft
Kumar Murshid
Kumar Murshid is accused of writing a cheque to himself
Ken Livingstone's former adviser, accused of stealing from a youth programme, has told a court he did not have control over its chequebook.

Kumar Murshid, 50, a Labour councillor for Tower Hamlets, allegedly wrote cheques to himself, Southwark Crown Court has been told.

He denies stealing 4,536 from the Youth Action Scheme (YAS) in 2001.

Another local politician and three other leading community figures also siphoned off cash, the jury heard.

On Monday, Mr Murshid told the court he agreed to be the organisation's chair in 1998 and that he had a high regard for its operational head, Nasir Uddin.

Nasir Uddin, 33, of East Ham, east London, a former Labour councillor, has admitted 14 counts of theft involving nearly 30,000 belonging to YAS.

His brother, Ain Uddin, 32, of Limehouse, east London, has admitted four similar charges amounting to just over 10,000.

I operated on a basis of trust with the people at YAS for a very long time
Kumar Murshid

Mr Murshid told the court Nasir Uddin and others would bring him cheques to sign, including some that were not fully completed.

If he was asked to sign a cheque, he would inquire about what it was for, the jury heard. Mr Murshid told the court: "If I was told `This is what this cheque is for', or `This is where it's going', I would take it on trust.

"I operated on a basis of trust with the people at YAS for a very long time."

He added: "The chequebook was not in my possession, and not something I filled in, or anything except what was brought to me on occasion for signature."

Mr Murshid, of Limehouse, east London, also pleaded not guilty to failing to keep "sufficient" accounting records for the Bangladesh International Action Network Limited, and failing to deliver YAS accounts to the company registrar.

Two other men, David Joseph, 39, of Grays, Essex, and Shalim Khan, 30, of Wapping, east London, are also facing charges.

David Joseph denies eight charges of theft totalling 9,457.66 from YAS, while Shalim Khan pleaded not guilty to four similar counts concerning 5,500 belonging to Kehla Limited.


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