Vote-rigging former mayor jailed

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THREE former city Labour party members found guilty of vote rigging have today been jailed.

THREE former city Labour party members found guilty of vote rigging have today been jailed. A former Labour mayor was jailed after being convicted of vote-rigging.

Mohammed Choudhary, 49, former mayor of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was given a nine-month term following a trial at King's Lynn Crown Court.

Two other local Labour figures were also jailed for vote rigging.

Maqbool Hussein, 52, was given a three-month term and Tariq Mahmood, 40, a 15-month term.

All three, who come from Peterborough, were convicted of forgery.

The trio hatched a scheme to forge votes for the Peterborough city council election in June 2004, prosecutors said.

"They were able to get hold of postal and proxy votes which belonged to voters in the Central Ward," said Anthony Leonard QC.

"They arranged for postal and ballot papers to be sent not to the voter but to addresses with which each defendant was connected."

Detectives launched an inquiry after voters complained, jurors were told.

Choudhary and Hussein were candidates in the election - and neither won seats despite the scam. Mahmood was a local Labour party secretary.

Detective Inspector Ian Tandy, who led the investigation, said he was satisfied with the length of sentences.

"This hopefully will act as a deterrent and send out a message that election fraud will be investigated and prosecuted," he said.

"It's the principle that matters and it's a big principle. People have the right to vote freely and without interference."

All three defendants were legally aided and the court heard that the police investigation, plus the four-month trial, would cost the taxpayer more than 850,000.

The judge ordered Choudhary to pay 20,000 towards his costs and Mahmood to pay 15,000 towards his costs. He did not make an order relating to Hussein.

FULL story and reaction in Tuesday's Evening Telegraph.