MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes has dismissed accusations that a convicted vote rigger was part of her election campaign.
Since her victory last month the Labour MP has been confronted with allegations that Tariq Mahmood, who was jailed in 2008 for postal vote interference, was part of her official team, in part because he was seen pictured with Ms Forbes and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign.
Separately, Cambridgeshire police have been investigating five allegations of electoral fraud, four of which have been dismissed. The fifth – an alleged breach of the privacy of the vote – is still being investigated.
The Brexit Party has also lodged a petition at the High Court calling for allegations of electoral fraud at the by-election to be investigated.
Asked for her thoughts on the allegations during an interview with the PT, Ms Forbes said people should give their evidence to the police, but that she is going to “focus on representing Peterborough”.
She added: “I’ve heard all sorts of things that Tariq Mahmood was supposed to have done in my campaign. He’s not even a Labour Party member.
“The fact that a couple of selfies turned up – I was asked for selfies with hundreds and hundreds of people during that campaign, as other candidates were. You don’t do a background check into everyone you have a photo with. He wasn’t integral in my campaign. He is a Labour Party supporter and that is as far as I know.”
Ms Forbes also said the by-election was “one of the hardest things” she has ever done due to the huge national media attention – but she was always confident of victory.
The Labour MP said: “I’m not a career politician, I’m a mum from Peterborough. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.”
Ms Forbes said her “track record” of helping people in Peterborough through her time as a city councillor, and working for Unite, stood her in good stead, and that people were fed up with austerity.
“It is true we have a lot of unskilled work, a lot of low paid work, a lot of zero hour contracts. People have suffered, even working people,” she said.
“We knew throughout we had a really good chance of winning. Although we weren’t the bookies’ favourites, we knew that our vote was holding firm.”
Ms Forbes added that winning was a “testament to hard work and campaigning on local issues that people cared about. That really resonated”.