Police fraud squad officers have been asked to find the person behind a smear campaign which claims the front-runner to become the Aston ward Labour candidate in the Birmingham City Council elections is guilty of benefit fraud and tax evasion.
An email sent to council leader Mike Whitby, deputy leader Paul Tilsley and Labour leader Sir Albert Bore levels serious allegations against Amjad Hussain, who hopes to be chosen to stand in Aston at a party selection meeting tonight . All of the claims have been denied.
The email is signed by someone called Ayoub Khan, who describes himself as a "concerned member of the Aston Labour Party" - but Aston Liberal Democrat councillor Ayoub Khan, up for re-election at the May 1 polls, says he did not send the message.
Coun Khan said yesterday he would refer the matter to the police.
Mr Hussain described the allegations, made against him, his wife and his family, as "malicious lies" and said it was clear someone intent on damaging Labour's election chances in Aston was behind the smear.
A year ago, Mr Hussain was forced to withdraw as Labour candidate shortly before the close of nominations after revealing he was an undischarged bankrupt. He has since settled his debts, discharged his bankruptcy and is about to embark on a course to become a mortgage advisor.
Mr Hussain added: "This is a pack of lies. I was bankrupt in the past but I have cleared my debts. My tax situation is completely up to date."
He said allegations in the email about his personal circumstances and benefit claims were untrue.
Nor was it the case his elderly father was living permanently in Pakistan while claiming benefit. He went to Pakistan two weeks ago to visit his sick brother and planned to return to Birmingham shortly to help in the Aston election campaign, Mr Hussain said.
"I am not claiming benefit even though, technically speaking, I am not doing any job at the moment," Mr Hussain added. "This is an attempt to embarrass me. I am a strong candidate and would attract votes.
"I am well known in the Bangladeshi community and have done work with the Afro-Caribbean community. I would pull in votes, but some people have a vested interest in having a weak Labour candidate."
A Birmingham Labour Party spokeswoman said the allegations would be taken seriously. She added: "Amjad Hussain is on our panel of candidates and we have therefore asked him to give us a full rebuttal to each of the issues raised, which he is currently preparing."
Coun Khan said he felt smeared, because people would believe him to be involved. He spoke to Mr Hussain on the phone to deny any knowledge of the emails.
Coun Khan added: "What concerns me is someone has taken the time to make up a name and use my details. People are using dirty tactics to ensure I do not succeed."
He said the spelling of Ayoub on the email was significant. He believes there are only two Ayoub Khans in Birmingham, and both are Liberal Democrat councillors - one for Aston and one for Washwood Heath.