Fraud case MP protests innocence

Mohammed Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Govan, protested his innocence yesterday after appearing in court in the city accused of electoral fraud.

Mr Sarwar has been accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice, of fraud over the late registration of voters and of contraventions of the Representation of the People Act in connection with election expenses.

He said he had been planning to make his maiden speech in Parliament tomorrow, but "in view of the events of the last few days" he would be contacting the Speaker to make alternative arrangements.

"I am naturally disappointed that charges have been brought against me. However, I am also to some extent relieved because, after police inquiries lasting more than seven months the intense speculation engendered by those inquiries, much of it ill-informed, should now be over.

"I reaffirm that I have done nothing wrong and I maintain that I am innocent of all charges. I have full confidence in the Scottish criminal justice system. If I am eventually indicted I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be acquitted of all charges," he said after a brief appearance behind closed doors before Sheriff Charles MacFarlane. He added that it would be "entirely inappropriate" for him to resign as an MP in such circumstances.

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