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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 18:03 GMT

UK Politics

Sarwar returns to Labour fold

Mohammad Sarwar: A Labour MP once more

Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar has had his suspension from Labour lifted following a meeting with party officials in Glasgow.

The UK's first Muslim MP rejoined the Labour fold a day after being acquitted on charges of bribery and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Sarwar, elected MP for Glasgow Govan in May 1997, will meet government Chief Whip Ann Taylor on Monday to have the party whip formally reinstated.

Mr Sarwar, 46, was acquitted at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday of two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Much of the trial centred on the circumstances surrounding the payment of £5,000 to a fringe candidate, Badar Islam, in the Glasgow Govan campaign.

[ image: Rival candidate: Mohammad Sarwar was accused of giving Badar Islam £5,000 as a bribe]
Rival candidate: Mohammad Sarwar was accused of giving Badar Islam £5,000 as a bribe
Mr Sarwar said it was a loan underwritten by a guarantee cheque. But the prosecution had claimed the cash was a bribe.

Announcing the MP's readmission into the party Alex Rowley, Scottish Labour's general secretary, said Mr Sarwar had "explained that he is deeply sorry but whilst under tremendous pressure he misled the party on the issue concerning a cheque received to cover the loan.

"He very much regrets having done so and he has give an assurance that this will never happen again."

Mr Rowley went on: "He is now keen to concentrate on his expressed desire to serve the people who elected him.

"Mr Sarwar was suspended because of the original allegations over which he has now been found not guilty by the Scottish courts.

Following his talks with the MP, Mr Rowley held discussions with party officials and members of an inquiry team set up by Labour's ruling National Executive Committee. "It has been decided that the inquiry is now completed and the matter is now closed."

As he left the meeting with Mr Rowley, Mr Sarwar said he would be pursuing a defamation action against the News of the World newspaper, which first printed the allegations of which he has been cleared.

The Govan MP was suspended from the Labour Party a fortnight after arriving at Westminster, when the accusations surfaced.

After his acquittal at the High Court on Thursday he declared: "Truth has triumphed and I have been vindicated."

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