Barrister Shabana Mahmood will be Labour’s General Election candidate in Ladywood after a six-month inquiry into allegations of foul play.
An investigation by the party’s National Executive Committee ruled in Ms Mahmood’s favour – and rejected claims Birmingham city councillor Yvonne Mosquito was unfairly robbed of the chance to fight the seat.
But it was unclear whether the finding would end the bitter row over who should stand for Labour when sitting MP Clare Short stands down.
Ms Mahmood, a barrister and daughter of Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of Birmingham Labour Party, won a hard-fought selection battle last year, when she received 118 votes from party activists against 99 for Coun Mosquito, a councillor for the Nechell’s ward.
But Coun Mosquito’s supporters claimed as many as 30 people were prevented from voting for her, after the party’s rules were changed to exclude members who joined less than 18 months ago. Usually, members need to belong to the Labour Party for 12 months before they can vote in selection contests.
Amicus official Mike Griffiths, a member of the party’s NEC, has completed an inquiry which ruled Ms Mahmood was the legitimate winner.
He found six people voted in the selection contest who should have been barred – but this could not have affected the result. It is not known which candidate the six voted for.
Coun Mosquito said she would discuss the decision with friends, family and supporters before deciding how to proceed. She declined to comment further.
Ms Mahmood said: “I’m pleased the inquiry is over so I can get on with the job Ladywood members have given me – to stand up for people in Ladywood, Soho, Aston and Nechells.”
Ian Reilly, Labour’s West Midlands regional director, said the finding “completely vindicates” the selection process.
The inquiry found officials acted within the rules by announcing – shortly after Ms Short revealed plans to stand down – only existing members would be allowed to take part in the selection contest.
This was designed to prevent new members joining to support a candidate.
It examined claims members had been allowed to vote who should have been barred, for example because their membership had lapsed and they re-joined the party.
Mr Griffiths said: “It is not known how these members voted but we do know these six votes would not have affected the outcome since the winning margin was 19 votes.”
Ladywood is a safe Labour seat. However, tensions over selection ran high because of suggestions Labour was favouring some ethnic groups.
There were claims Labour had gone out of its way to get Muslims such as Ms Mahmood into the House of Commons, at the expense of the Christian community, including black Christians such as Coun Mosquito.
Bishop Joe Aldred, chairman of the Council of Black-Led Churches, wrote to national Labour officials expressing the concerns of the black churches and asking for an explanation.