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Calls for inquiry on vote rigging at council

Walsall | News | Published:

Calls were today made for an investigation into vote rigging at Walsall Council after a Tory party member and son of a councillor was locked up for electoral fraud.

Calls were today made for an investigation into vote rigging at Walsall Council after a Tory party member and son of a councillor was locked up for electoral fraud.

Ali Hayder Munir, who was today expelled from the Conservative party, was jailed for three months after admitting two charges of making false applications for proxy votes.

He is the son of Palfrey representative Mohammed Munir, who was also charged with election fraud but cleared of any wrongdoing.

Labour leader Councillor Tim Oliver is now demanding an inquiry into the council, saying it is not enough "to wait for the police to catch the bad apples".

But Walsall Council leader Mike Bird came out fighting today, saying there was no need for an investigation and the police and Crown Prosecution Service were doing their jobs well and rooting out any corruption.

Councillor Oliver said past calls to investigate what was happening in the borough's three Conservative constituency parties had been ignored.

He said: "The conviction of Ali Munir is deeply worrying for all involved in the democratic process in Walsall.

"It's not enough for political parties to wait for the police to catch the bad apples, it is also up to those organisations to root out malpractices and any culture within their associations which condones or turns a blind eye to the corruption of our democratic process.

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"So far that's exactly what the Conservatives have failed to do. For the sake of the democratic process, David Cameron should act now."

But Councillor Bird said corruption could occur in any political party — and highlighted the Birmingham election scandal in 2005 when six Labour councillors were found guilty of vote-rigging and Judge Richard Mawrey said electoral fraud in the city would "disgrace a banana republic".

Councillor Bird said: "Anybody who tries to manipulate the democratic process deserves everything they get. I find it appalling and a disgrace.

"Ali Munir is in prison now and that is the best place for him as far as I'm concerned. But there is no need for an investigation because it has already been done. The case is closed, he's in prison and that's where he should be.

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"Mr Munir was suspended as soon as he was charged and has now been expelled."

Munir, aged 30, of Thorpe Road, Caldmore, was expected to stand trial next year but was locked up at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting making false applications for the Walsall Council elections in 2008.

The court heard that Munir had used the names of real people and filled in forms to get them on the electoral register and then apply for proxy votes, but had used fake details and forged signatures.

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