Local politician Israr Rashid has been charged with a number of vote-by-mail offences in High Wycombe, England.
Rashid won the Totteridge and Bowerdean seat on Buckingham County Council in a by-election on February 7th, securing 40.8 per cent of the vote on a turnout of 30.21 per cent — far ahead of his nearest competitor, independent candidate Matt Knight, on 27.8 per cent of vote, or the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates, on 21.2 per cent and 10.2 per cent of the vote.
Rashid had originally been the Labour candidate for the seat — and is described as having been the Labour candidate in the Buckingham County Council news bulletin announcing the outcome of the election — but, according to the Bucks Free Press, the left-wing party “suspended” him just days before the vote was held.
The local news outlet now reports that he has been charged with “conspiracy to defraud the electoral services manager at Wycombe District Council by dishonestly causing or permitting to be submitted to the officer postal voting statements which contained false particulars”, as well as “two counts of committing, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring in the commission of voting by post as some other person.”
Rashid’s lawyer submitted not guilty pleas via Skype on his behalf at Aylesbury Crown Court, whose proceedings have been disrupted by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Francis Sheridan said a trial for the politician would be organised as swiftly as possible, warning that “If [Rashid] does not turn up for trial, it will be held in his absence” and imposing a number of bail conditions preventing him from contacting certain people or coming within 100 feet of certain addresses, to prevent “interference” with witnesses.