A HIGH Wycombe Corbyn-lover who won a Bucks County Council by-election yet was charged with electoral fraud has pleaded not guilty – amid concerns that he will refuse to attend future court hearings.
Israr Rashid, 40, was a Wycombe Labour candidate who stood in the 2019 Totteridge and Bowerdean by-election – winning the election with 40.8% of the vote.
Rashid was later charged with conspiracy to defraud the electoral services manager at Wycombe District Council by allegedly dishonestly submitting ‘fraudulent’ postal voting statements and has also been charged with two counts of committing, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring in the commission of voting by post as some other person – i.e. postal vote fraud.
In an Aylesbury Crown Court plea hearing held via Skype in which Mr Rashid was not present but was represented by barrister Rhys Rosser – the former Labour candidate pleaded not guilty on all three charges.
As part of his bail conditions, Mr Rashid is not allowed to contact five specific people, who may be called as witnesses, or go within 100 feet of Cambridge Crescent in High Wycombe, or go to a specific address in Adelaide Road in High Wycombe – to prevent “interference” with witnesses.
Because not guilty pleas have been entered, a trial, which is expected to last four to five days, will now have to go ahead – all at the expense of the taxpayer.
Judge Francis Sheridan, who presided over the plea and trial preparation hearing, said it was in the public interest that the trial is arranged “as promptly as we can”.
“If [Mr Rashid] does not turn up for trial, it will be held in his absence” he added.