appearing to hand over packets of dates
A former Lord Mayor of Birmingham is facing an investigation for election bribery.
Labour politician Mohammed Afzal brought legal action seeking to overturn a result in council elections held in May 2022.
Mr Afzal said two victorious Liberal Democrat candidates had falsely accused him of unlawfully handing out gifts during the campaign.
A ten-day hearing into the claims was scheduled to begin on February 6 but doorbell footage was submitted to the court.
He withdrew his election petition after viewing doorbell footage of him on the campaign trail.
Footage showed him with associates approaching front doors and appearing to hand over packets of dates bearing Labour Party stickers.
One piece of footage showed the associates heard saying the package was “from the Labour Party and Mr Afzal”.
In another, those receiving the package were then told to “vote Labour number one”.
Following the emergence of the videos, Mr Afzal’s barrister told High Court Judge Richard Foster it would be “impracticable” to continue with the petition to overturn the vote.
Mr Afzal was said to be standing in Aston, a Labour stronghold where two Liberal Democrat candidates were instead elected.
One had previously been involved in an election dispute with Mr Afzal 15 years ago.
According to Judge Richard Foster, there was “conclusive evidence that indeed [Afzal] and his supporters did supply electors with packets of dates containing Labour Party stickers on a widespread basis during the campaign”.
Mr Foster said the disputed election happened during Ramadan, in which eating dates was a traditional way for Muslims to round off their fast.
The judge allowed Mr Afzal to withdraw his petition.
He said that there was “overwhelming evidence served on behalf of [his rivals] of illegal election practices in which he participated”.
The judge said he was sending a copy of the judgement to the director of public prosecutions and awarded each of the victorious candidates an interim payment of £10,000 towards their costs.
Mr Afzal brought the petition after claiming that the Liberal Democrats, Ayoub Khan, a barrister and Mumtaz Hussain made “false allegations” to sway voters in the ward.
Mr Afzal, aged 78, was Britain’s first elected Muslim Pakistani councillor in 1982.
In 2004, he and five other Labour councillors had to step down after Sir Richard Mawrey QC, then the electoral commissioner, discovered evidence of postal ballot abuse.