Police are investigating the worst outbreak of voter fraud at a Birmingham City Council election for five years.
Almost 400 postal votes cast at Thursday’s Sparkbrook ward by-election – a third of the total issued – were rejected as likely forgeries.
Council officials, backed by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, called in the police after saying they suspected an organised plot to influence the result of the by-election, which was won by Respect candidate Shokat Ali.
In 2004, Birmingham was likened to a “banana republic” by Elections Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC, who investigated hundreds of forged ballot papers at that year’s city council elections.
Birmingham Labour leader Sir Albert Bore said those behind the alleged fraud at Sparkbrook had attempted to destroy the electoral process.
Sir Albert added: “Nearly 400 postal vote ballot papers were rejected because of inconsistencies in either the date of birth or the signature of the elector.