Surrey

Tories win Woking by-election held after Lib Dem 'electoral fraud'

The Conservatives have won a by-election that was called after the High Court ruled the previous winner and his team rigged the vote.

Tory candidate Rashid Mohammed was elected to represent Woking's Maybury and Sheerwater ward on Tuesday.

Liberal Democrat Mohammed Bashir won the seat by 16 votes in May 2012 but a judge ruled he and his team had carried out corrupt and illegal practices.

The party's replacement candidate, Norman Johns, came fourth.

'Paid the price'

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes said voters in Woking had punished the local candidate and team for Mr Bashir's conduct.

He said: "If something had been done improperly I condemn it, it shouldn't have happened, and we've paid the price of losing that seat."

Mr Bashir was banned from taking part in the vote by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC during the High Court hearing in July.

His judgement said Labour candidate Mr Ali had alleged Mr Bashir and his electoral team had caused false names to be entered on the electoral register, using the names of people who did not live at the stated address, or never existed at all.

The judge's ruling stated there had been an "abnormally high" number of late registrations, multiple registrations in the same property, and abnormally high turnout figures.

"Sadly, therefore, this is yet another case where the United Kingdom's shambolic electoral system has led to an election being challenged on the ground of widespread fraud," his judgement added.

Mr Ali decided not to stand in Tuesday's by-election, with Stephen Tudhope, who represented the Labour Party, coming second. UKIP's Neil Willetts came third.

Surrey Police said its investigation into electoral fraud in the Maybury and Sheerwater area around the time of the May 2012 local election was still continuing.

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