Ex-councillor faces jail over vote-rigging

Press Association
Monday February 28, 2005

A former Labour councillor faces jail after pleading guilty to election rigging today.

Muhammed Hussain, 61, of Logwood Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, admitted to conspiring to defraud local elections in May 2002 at Preston crown court.

Hussain won a seat on Blackburn With Darwen borough council with 1,728 votes and a majority of 685. However, an investigation found that 233 postal votes were fraudulent.

Adjourning the case for sentencing, Judge Peter Openshaw told Hussain: "You must brace yourself for a custodial sentence."

Hussain admitted conspiring to defraud returning officer Philip Watson by "dishonestly causing and permitting falsely completed postal ballot papers and accompanying declarations of identity to be submitted in the local government elections for the Bastwell ward".

The Conservatives, who came second in the vote, complained after more than 75% of people who applied to vote by post did so - an unusually high number. An investigation revealed that Hussain had asked others to collect postal ballot forms from voters and fill them in themselves.

Mark Ainsworth, prosecuting, said: "The integrity of the electoral process must be maintained. If evidence becomes available that something has been done to undermine that integrity, action must be taken.

"In this case, a number of postal votes were submitted in this local election. It is clear that Mr Hussain was deeply involved in this activity. He was the only person with anything directly to gain from this activity."

Hussain was granted bail until sentencing at Preston crown court on April 8.
Another instance of labour candidates playing with the votes!


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