Five jailed over postal votes scam

Five men, including two former councillors, were jailed today for their parts in a failed postal votes scam aimed at getting a Conservative Party candidate elected in the 2005 general election.

A judge heard that a newspaper investigation and police inquiry unearthed a plot to try to get Tory candidate Haroon Rashid elected in the marginal Bradford West seat using hundreds of fraudulent postal vote applications.

Leeds Crown Court was told detectives examined about 900 suspicious forms - many from people who did not exist or had no idea an application had been made on their behalf.

The plot was foiled before the conspirators had the chance to convert the applications into votes and, in the end, Mr Rashid was defeated by sitting Labour MP Marsha Singh who won with a majority of more than 3,000.

Prosecutors said that if the press had not intervened in May 2005, "the plan may well have been successful".

Today former Bradford city councillor Jamshed Khan, 65, of Russell Street, Bradford; another former councillor Reis Khan, 40, of Whetley Hill, Bradford; Mohammed Sultan, 52, of Toller Lane, Bradford and Mohammed Rafiq, 70, of Cecil Avenue, Bradford, were each jailed for 21 months for their part in the conspiracy.

All four denied a charge of conspiring to defraud the electoral registration officer of Bradford City Council but were found guilty at a trial earlier this year.

Another defendant, Alyas Khan, 52, of Hilton Road, Bradford, admitted the offence and was jailed for 11 months.