Tory Candidate Suspended Over 'EDL Plot'

A Tory election candidate has been suspended for allegedly plotting to win votes by taking credit for stopping an EDL protest.

Afzal Amin is accused by the Mail on Sunday of collaborating with the English Defence League (EDL) to announce a protest march against the building of a "mega-mosque".

The plan was for the protest to be scrapped with Mr Amin taking credit for defusing the situation, the newspaper reports.

The candidate is said to have outlined his plan to former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and current EDL chairman Steve Eddowes at an Indian restaurant in Birmingham on Monday, weeks after a real EDL demonstration in Dudley which led to 30 arrests.

"This is my fantasy," he says in secretly recorded footage. "If I could demonstrate to the people in Dudley that I can be a positive voice for community cohesion... then that would help me a lot in the forthcoming election."

The Muslim candidate, who had been selected to stand in the Dudley North constituency which has a Labour majority of 649, was also recorded promising he would subsequently be an "unshakeable ally" for the EDL in parliament.

In a recorded phone call with Mr Robinson, Mr Amin also says he needs two "white" canvassers to help his campaign for election.

"I need two white, working class lads to go round those areas to say to people, 'You support the Army, if you support the troops then vote for this guy'. That's what I need," he said.

When Mr Robinson raises the question of payment Mr Amin makes it clear it is illegal to pay people to canvass during elections.

But when it is suggested the men can be paid indirectly through Mr Robinson, Mr Amin replies: "Yes of course, of course".

Sky's political correspondent Anushka Asthana said: "He was filmed doing something extraordinary; trying to persuade the EDL to say they are going to hold a rally against a mega-mosque in Dudley then getting them to call it off so he can take the credit for it.

"He suggested paying EDL members to help get him support in the area and the party have suspended him after an emergency meeting of the committee that deals with selections for candidates.

"He will have a chance to make his case on Tuesday but, as I understand it, the Prime Minister will support whatever decision it comes to. They are taking it seriously and this is clearly bad news for them."

A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed Mr Amin had been suspended as a candidate following an emergency meeting, adding the party viewed the matter as "extremely serious".

Mr Amin had been due to take on sitting Labour MP Ian Austin in the election on 7 May .

Four days ago Mr Amin tweeted: "This General Election could be one of the most important of our lifetime. Now is not the time to lose faith in politics."

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday, Mr Amin said the Mail on Sunday had taken "small snippets" of more than 57 hours of meetings between the Muslim community, the EDL leadership and himself.

He said the meetings had been designed to "prevent further inter-communal tensions and violence".

He said: "The EDL marched in Dudley in February 2015, despite our best efforts to stop this. The march cost UK tax payers £1m, and there was no way that I wanted this to happen again.

"I continued my engagement with Tommy Robinson to prevent another march. There was an opportunity for me to use my experience as a strategist in Kandahar by getting people to talk face to face and then recount to their communities what was discussed and that a settlement was agreed."