Pakistani-origin men get 13 years for British poll fraud

May 2nd, 2009 - 4:06 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 2 (IANS) Six Pakistani-origin men have been jailed for more than 13 years in total after a major police investigation into an attempt to rig local council elections in a London suburb.
“An election is arguably the most important event in a democracy and I would like to reassure the voting public that we will investigate and deal with any allegations of fraud in the run up to, or on, election day itself,” David Poole, the police officer in charge of the case, said after the men were sentenced Friday.

Conservative party councillor Raja Khan and his supporters Mohammed Basharat Khan, Mahboob Khan, Arshad Mahmood Raja, Altaf Khan and Gul Nawaz Khan were sentenced at Reading Crown Court for their part in the postal ballot fraud.

The malpractice came to light after Labour councillor Lydia Simmons lost her Slough Central ward seat to Raja Khan in May 2007.

The court was told Raja Khan, who admitted the offences, and his supporters entered hundreds of false names on the voter register.

The men were jailed for terms ranging from four months to three years and four months after prosecution told the court actions like these risked turning Britain into a “banana republic”.

“The systems to deal with fraud are not working well, they are not working badly. The fact is there are no real systems. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated. The system for voting would disgrace a banana republic,” said Charles Miskin for the prosecution.

Judge Gordon Risius said: “In any democratic country, a conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process is by its very nature a serious criminal offence.”

“If it succeeds, as it did here, the wishes of a majority of the voting community are thwarted.”

“This week the newspapers are full of what has been called the swine fever pandemic, but there has been another epidemic that has been working its way across the United Kingdom in recent years,” Miskin said.

“Not, of course, a threat to life and limb but one that attacks, affects and corrodes the roots of our democracy.”

“Postal voting has been in high demand and as a result there has been a surge of ballot fixing, the like of which has not been seen since Victorian times,” he added.

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