MP to face court on election charges

 

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a British Labour MP, Mr Mohammed Sarwar, on charges of election fraud.

The Crown Office in Edinburgh said the charges relate to the alleged late registration of voters, attempting to pervert the course of justice and contravention of the Representation of the People Act over election expenses.

Arrangements have been made for Mr Sarwar, MP for Govan in Glasgow, to appear voluntarily at Glasgow Sheriff Court today, the Crown Office said.

Last night a Labour Party spokesman said: "When the police inquiries began, the Labour Party took action against Mr Sarwar in two ways. His membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party was suspended and the Labour Party deprived him of the right to represent the party at any level. That remains the position."

The spokesman refused to comment any further about Mr Sarwar, who continues to be a Labour MP.

Mr Sarwar (45) became Britain's first Asian Muslim MP when he was elected in Labour's landslide general election victory in May. He has always denied any wrongdoing, and his spokesman said the MP would make a statement today. Meanwhile, the pressure on Mr Tony Blair's government continued as the Shadow Chancellor, Mr Peter Lilley, took his complaint about the financial affairs of the Paymaster General, Mr Geoffrey Robinson, to Parliament's standards watchdog, Sir Gordon Downey.

Mr Lilley wrote to Sir Gordon "formally to complain about the failure to register" his involvement in an offshore trust with the Register of Members' Interests. He has also asked Sir Gordon to rule on "an apparent conflict of interest" between Mr Robinson's ministerial role and the trust.

The controversy centres on the Orion Trust, set up on behalf of a late Belgian friend of Mr Robinson and of which he and members of his family are discretionary beneficiaries.

A spokesman for Mr Robinson said last night that the Paymaster General was "more than happy for Sir Gordon to look into this and will, of course, comply with any decision that he makes".

The former Labour leader, Mr Neil Kinnock, rejected as "totally without foundation" claims that he believes Mr Robinson should resign for the sake of the Labour Party. Media reports claimed he had confided doubts about the wisdom of Mr Robinson's staying in his post to a Belgian journalist last week.