A Birmingham city council cabinet member who was found by a judge to have taken part in a “scurrilous” witness intimidation plot appears in court today in an attempt to clear his name.
Liberal Democrat Ayoub Khan is seeking to overturn a ruling by Elections Commissioner Timothy Straker QC that he manufactured a “sordid story” to wrongly accuse Labour councillor Muhammad Afzal of frightening witnesses into refusing to give evidence at last year’s Aston election petition trial.
Mr Straker also found Coun Khan to have been behind an “unpleasant, unsupported and unsubstantiated” suggestion that Coun Afzal’s supporters were responsible for setting fire to a Range Rover belonging to a Liberal Democrat activist.
After the 24-day petition hearing, Mr Straker threw out Liberal Democrat claims that Coun Afzal won his council seat in 2007 off the back of a smear campaign and was sharply critical of Coun Khan’s conduct during the hearing.
Coun Khan and Coun Afzal are councillors for Aston ward, the scene over the years of numerous allegations about electoral malpractice.
Coun Khan, the cabinet member for local services and community safety, a barrister, and the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for Ladywood at the next General Election, faced Labour calls for his resignation from the council but vowed to establish his innocence through a judicial review of the case.
After today’s hearing at the High Court in London, before Mr Justice Wilkie, the Bar Council is expected to consider an official complaint alleging that Coun Khan behaved in a “dishonest or discreditable” way during the election court proceedings.
The complaint, submitted by Coun Afzal, asks the Bar Standards Board Complaints Committee to consider whether Coun Khan “engaged in conduct which is dishonest, or otherwise discreditable to a barrister”.