Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unanswered Questions

On The Stirrer messageboard, I mentioned a little story from a local election campaign a few years ago.

(Then) Cllr Hemming was in search of corrupt practices by opposition parties and he happened upon a strange event, where he had reason to suspect two men of going door to door collecting postal votes. He photographed them in action and took the evidence straight to the local police station, closely followed by the men in question. There, the two groups exchanged views until the police got bored and suggested that they leave.

Clearly, John must have suspected them of something, but the odd thing is that those two men are now members of the Liberal Democrats.

Firstly, Martin Mullaney jumped in with a distracting and irrelevant story about how he and John first met, then John turned up and accused me of telling untruths
[the] comment has a nub of truth to it, but only a nub. Much of it is untrue. Martin and I (and a third individual) were indeed chased across part of Birmingham. However, not everything... said is true.

Now, I try to get things right here and wherever else I post, so if I've got it wrong and if my source has misled me, then I'm happy to put the record straight. So far, despite repeated requests and opportunities, Cllr Hemming has failed to point out any - let alone 'much' - untruth in the story.

I don't like being called a liar by anyone.

There's more detail to tell - and it might surprise you to know the subsequent careers of those two men.

Helping with inquiries - or not?

The Cllr Khan story rumbles on. And on.

Fortunately, he has received information that God is a Liberal Democrat (Harry Potter not enough, then?) and is firmly on his side, but he is still facing a disciplinary investigation by the Bar Standards Board. And to add to his discomfort, it seems that the Liberal Democrat party investigation into his conduct is still going on. Cllr Paul Tilsley originally said that the inquiry had been completed and that it had cleared Cllr Khan of all wrongdoing - which wouldn't be the greatest surprise in the world, but on further investigation, the Birmingham Post spoke to Lib Dem headquarters in London who took a surprisingly different view and it seems that the investigation was merely suspended pending the completion of the legal action.

While the Lib Dems continue to spin this as a Labour attack, that renowned organ of the left, the Post, has itself joined in the fun
The Liberal Democrats continue to prop up in public office a man who was prepared to falsely accuse his Labour opponent of witness intimidation, an offence for which a jail sentence would surely have followed if there was a shred of truth in the claim. If Nick Clegg’s claims to be cleaning up politics mean anything at all, he must start by sacking Coun Khan as parliamentary candidate and member of the city council cabinet.

Granted, it isn't within Clegg's technical power to sack Ayoub from the Cabinet, but I'm sure discreet pressure could be brought to bear on the eminence jaune, John Hemming, to sort the matter out. But the Post were actually early starters in this race - led the charge last year, when Marc Reeves, the editor, wrote:
My paper will demand the resignation of Aston Lib Dem councillor Ayoub Khan, the cabinet member for local services, because - simply - we've had enough of this city's reputation being dragged through the mud.

Khan remains clinging on to power and increasingly desperate dream that he might become MP for Ladywood and his rhetoric is perhaps at a distance from reality. Talking to The Stirrer, Ayoub claimed that
The real judge is the people of Aston who turned out in great numbers to support me in 2007,
Firstly, it was in 2008, not 2007. 'Great' numbers is exaggerating a 352 vote majority - and let's not forget that it was Ayoub Khan who turned up at the Elections Office minutes before the deadline clutching 200 postal vote applications and 150 voter registration forms in a move that almost certainly won the election for him.

His mate, John Hemming, continues to smear the Labour Party, with the unsupported and evidence-free accusation that a Range Rover in Aston was apparently burnt out in an attempt to intimidate witnesses. This is a 'suspicion' based upon his knowledge of Birmingham politics, but not on anything useful like 'evidence' that most people would consider necessary.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ayoub Khan - drowning in hot water

Cllr Ayoub Khan, the Lib Dem candidate in the next Ladywood parliamentary election, continues to flounder.

If you recall, he was slammed by the Election Commissioner at 2007's election court for making a scurrilous and unwarranted accusation against a Labour councillor. One of the conclusions of the Commissioner's report was that

An unwarranted attempt was made by Mr Aehmed and Mr Ayoub Khan to suggest that Mr Afzal was seeking illegitimately to influence the pursuit of the case

That's pretty damning, when a judicial figure directs that kind of comment against a barrister, but then we know that the Lib Dems in Birmingham regard it as some sort of badge of honour.

Remember that their local proprietor, John Hemming, was himself heavily cricitised by Lord Justice Wall, who said

I will not be persuaded to take seriously any criticism made by him in the future unless it is corroborated by reliable, independent evidence
And John - who continues to serve as an MP - remains unbowed by this, so we can't expect Cllr Khan to behave any differently, even though the High Court has now thrown out his desperate application for a judicial review of the Commissioner's report.
Lord Justice Leverson and Mr Justice Wilkie said there was “no sensible basis” for Coun Khan’s claim that Mr Straker’s findings were perverse or unsubstantiated by evidence. His assertion that Mr Straker’s judgement was flawed was “barely even arguable".
The full judgement can be found here, for those of you of a mind to read the primary source documents and you can find the original decision of the Commissioner here.

Of course, the prolonged - and now exhausted - legal process has also had the convenient side effect of delaying a Bar Standards Board investigation into whether Khan's behaviour amounted to professional misconduct. Another, long-pending investigation, is that by the local Liberal Democrats into the behaviour of this senior local member, who continues to draw a substantial salary as Cabinet Member, councillor and someone they consider to be a suitable representative for the people of Ladywood.

On the evidence so far presented, the case to support that argument is getting weaker.

I see that John Hemming has waded into the fight, showing a deep respect for evidence and skating on thin ice over libel. He admits that
Neither Ayoub, nor myself have any evidence as to who torched the car
but that doesn't stop him from slinging mud

I personally believe that the car was torched by Labour supporters in an attempt to intimidate witnesses in the Election Court.... we have a "reasonable suspicion", but no more than that...

My response, as always, is - if you have evidence, then place it before the police or the courts. When this accusation was placed before a court, it was thrown out. Repeating it doesn't make it true.

To remind everyone. Paragraph 125 of the Commissioner's report deals with this simply:

A further incident should be noted to the discredit, I am afraid, of Mr Ayoub Khan. When he gave his evidence he clearly suggested as I have recorded above that Mr Afzal's supporters had burnt out a Range Rover belonging to one of Mr Afzal's supporters. In the light of how the case proceeded, this suggestion was clearly no more than an unpleasant, unsupported and unsubstantiated assertion directed against Mr Afzal.