Ex-councillor Raghib Ahsan wins race claim against Labour party

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A former Labour councillor who was accused of vote-rigging has won a six-figure payout after claiming he was discriminated against because he was Asian.

Raghib Ahsan has been awarded £123,000 by an employment tribunal following a 13-year-long legal battle with the Labour party.

Two-thirds of the compensation payout is based on allowances which Ahsan would have been able to claim from the council had he continued in office.

The 65-year-old was deselected as Labour's candidate for the Sparkhill ward in Birmingham city council in 1997 following claims that he helped Asian families jump the queue for housing repair grants in return for votes.

The allegations were strongly denied by Ahsan, who claimed that he was dropped as a candidate because he was Asian.

It is estimated that the case, which was backed by the now-defunct Commission for Racial Equality, has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in court costs.

It is believed to be the first time a councillor has been awarded compensation by a tribunal after being dropped by a political party.

Ahsan first brought his claim for racial discrimination in 1998, a year after being deselected and being replaced with a white candidate.

Labour questioned whether a case could be brought as Ahsan was not an employee of the party but the tribunal ruled it should go ahead.

Despite a Court of Appeal ruling that tribunals had no jurisdictions to hear such claims, the case went ahead as, the tribunal said, its original decision to allow the claim to go ahead "remained binding, even though it had now been shown to be wrong".

It found that the Labour party had deselected him partly because it felt the electorate would identify a candidate from the Pakistani community with the housing grant scandal, and this amounted to racial discrimination.

In July, he was awarded £43,000 in compensation for "injury to feelings" and £80,000 for loss of earnings that he would have received in the form of allowances between 1998 and 2004 – the period during which, the tribunal decided, Ahsan would have most likely been a councillor.

Ahsan, who now works as a solicitor and has since represented three former Labour councillors who were sacked from the city council for their part in a postal vote fraud.

"It is the end of a very long struggle that took over my life for many years but I am very pleased that I have been awarded compensation.

Ahsan said,

"All of the allegations against me were unfounded and my deselection was entirely unjustified. Now I feel as though I have been vindicated – and I have the cheque to prove it."

Ahsan, who was also wrongly accused of intimidating party members, added,

"I don't think Labour has learnt the lessons it should have learnt from the way I have been treated. I don't think the party is inherently racist but I think there are still some racist practises which persist and I hope it reassess its selection procedures. I hope that one day I get an apology from them. But I don't think that will happen."

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Waste

£123,000 to a guy who can't even string a sentence together to help the people who voted for him - its a joke.

The truth of the matter is the Labour party and any other organisation will always have racism - to tackle it money should not be a motivator - those responsible for the racism should be dismissed and that would stop it in its tracks - rather then pay out money to someone who has most likely in that period worked or received benefits from other sources, and then makes a claim for loss of earnings !

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