A senior Labour Birmingham City Councillor offered a cash bribe in an attempt to overturn an election petition - threatening violence if the offer of money was not accepted, a court heard yesterday.
Muhammed Afzal recruited two cousins of council cabinet member Ayoub Khan to act as intermediaries, offering to give "anything" if the Liberal Democrats were prepared to drop legal action contesting Coun Afzal's victory in Aston ward at the 2007 local elections, it is claimed.
An election court is hearing allegations that Coun Afzal won his seat off the back of a smear campaign against losing Lib Dem candidate Saeed Aehmed. All of the claims of improper conduct are denied.
It was claimed yesterday that Coun Afzal paid regular visits to a scrap yard run by Coun Khan's cousins, Muhammed Arif and Muhammed Banaris, urging them to put pressure on the Liberal Democrats to drop the proceedings.
At a meeting three days before the court case was due to begin the cousins told Mr Aehmed and Coun Khan about four options proposed by Coun Khan, it was claimed.
The first option involved the offer of money or "anything else" to drop the case, Mr Aehmed said. The second and third options involved persuading key witnesses not to appear in court. The fourth option was a warning that Coun Afzal would "do" Coun Khan if he gave evidence.
Asked if he understood that any attempt at bribery would be a criminal offence, Mr Aehmed said he did not. Asked why he did not report the alleged threats to the police, Mr Aehmed said such events were commonplace in the Pakistani community in Birmingham.
"There have been blackmailing and threats for a very long time. It could be anything including violence. In the Asian community if you don't listen to someone, a lot of people get a third party to do something about it," he added.
Gavin Millar QC, for Coun Afzal and the Labour Party, pointed out that Ayoub Khan when giving evidence failed to mention claims of bribery and threats.
Mr Millar, addressing Mr Aehmed, said: "This is a very important thing that one member of Birmingham City Council is going to do to another member of Birmingham City Council. It is not an everyday conversational gambit.
"Potentially very serious criminal offences are being alleged against my client and you haven't been to the police. You don't think it is a criminal offence to offer money. You don't think it is a criminal offence to make a threat and you leave it to the second or third day of this case to mention it to your solicitor.
"Why didn't you go to your solicitor and say I have been offered a bribe to drop the petition and it has come through Ayoub Khan's cousins?"
Recorder Timothy Straker QC ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to "compel" Mr Arif and Mr Banaris to come to court to give evidence.