"All governments are lying cocksuckers, I hope you know that." - Bill Hicks
On April 4, Richard Mawrey QC, acting as an election commissioner, issued a judgement in a civil hearing quashing the result of two local authority elections in Birmingham held June 10 last year.
Mawrey’s 192-page judgement stated that the polls in the Aston and Bordesley Green electoral wards were corrupted by “massive, systematic and organised” vote-rigging by Labour members, with the aim of offsetting a collapse in the party’s vote due to the Iraq war.
The case was the first of its kind to be held in Britain for more than a century. It arose after Election Petitions were brought under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and 2000, challenging the result of two elections in the June 2004 poll.
Mawrey’s decision was announced just one day before Prime Minister Tony Blair called a general election for May 5. On February 22, the QC had accused Labour of attempting to delay the vote-rigging hearings until after the general election by withdrawing their legal support from the accused party candidates.
The first Election Petition was brought by the People’s Justice Party (PJP) against three Labour Party representatives of the Bordesley Green ward, Shafaq Ahmed, Shah Jahan and Ayaz Khan. The second Petition was raised by Liberal Democrat supporters against three Labour Party representatives in the Aston ward—Mohammed Islam, Muhammed Afzal and Mohammed Kazi.
Mawrey ruled that no fewer than 1,500 votes, and possibly more than 2,000 votes, were cast fraudulently in the Bordesley Green ward of Birmingham. The six Labour councillors were found guilty of electoral fraud and illegal practices and were ordered to pay court costs of around £500,000. They are also banned from standing for election and from voting for the next five years.
Following the hearing, the councillors were suspended by the Labour Party, pending an investigation. All six deny vote rigging. The councillors may face criminal charges if police decide to investigate.
The system of postal voting in the UK, “is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that it’s wide open to fraud,” Mawrey stated.
During the course of the hearing, the QC heard evidence that the vote rigging was organised on a large scale and included the fraudulent use of postal ballots, death threats and other forms of intimidation.
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