There’s something very worrying about the case of Cllr Ayoub Khan, a Liberal Democrat councillor on Birmingham City Council and Cabinet Member for Community Safety. Khan is also a barrister, and in his spare time the Lib Dem PPC in Birmingham Ladywood. A busy man.
Last week his appeal to the High Court to challenge the findings of an election court last year was thrown out by judges. The findings of Elections Commissioner Timothy Straker QC suggest that Khan made “sordid” claims that Labour politicians had been involved in witness intimidation, attempted “scurrilous” smears about Labour opponents, making an “unpleasant and unsubstantiated” allegation that Labour activists were responsible for an arson attack on a Lib Dem supporter’s Range Rover.
The Birmingham Post reports that: “Lord Justice Leverson and Mr Justice Wilkie said there was “no sensible basis” for Khan’s claim that Mr Straker’s findings were perverse or unsubstantiated by evidence. His assertion that Mr Straker’s judgement was flawed was “barely even arguable.”
So why is he still a PPC and why does he remain in the Cabinet of the largest local authority in the UK and the largest council in Europe? Will the Lib Dems, who specialise in spluttering moral outrage, do the decent thing and sack this man as a PPC and Cabinet councillor? Or are they waiting for the decision of the Bar Standards Board, which will be Cllr Khan’s next opportunity to defend an indefensible position. Or are they waiting for the findings of a Lib Dem inquiry into Cllr Khan’s activities, which was announced in May last year but which has yet to report anything?
Birmingham Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore has written to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as follows:
“Can you please explain why the Liberal Democrats call on others to hold high standards in public office but have taken no action whatsoever against a man who is running for parliament under your party banner after he was described by a judge as bringing forward a scurrilous and unwarranted allegation whilst under oath in an Election Court and was reported to the High Court for that conduct.
“The public will see the case of Coun Khan is a test as to whether you are serious about the need for politicians to take urgent action to restore public trust.
“If you fail to take urgent action against this leading local Liberal Democrat, we will know that your public statements are no more than hollow rhetoric.”
“Now that both the election Court and the High Court have found decisively against Coun Khan, are you going to ignore the judgements of the court or follow through your professed principles?”
Let’s not forget the Lib Dems in Birmingham have been in a so-called ‘progressive partnership’ with the Conservatives since 2004. Will Conservative council leader Cllr Mike Whitby do what the Lib Dems seem reluctant to do and dispense with Cllr Khan from the Cabinet?