Britain's first Muslim Government minister yesterday launched a libel battle in the High Court over claims that he organised "gangs of Asian thugs" to intimidate voters in a local election.
International Development Minister Shahid Malik is said to have "overseen and directed" up to 200 Asian Labour activists to help secure victory for a Muslim councillor.
The men are said to have breached electoral rules by escorting voters to the polling station while telling them in Urdu to choose the Muslim Labour candidate.
Mr Malik is also accused of encouraging ethnic division in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, by urging Asians to vote for "their Muslim brother" rather than according to their political opinion.
The allegations were first made by former Conservative councillor Jonathan Scott in a letter to the Dewsbury Press newspaper, after he was unseated as a local councillor.
It describes how "Malik's ethnic entourage behaved no better than BNP thugs" on polling day in the Dewsbury South ward of Kirklees Council.
Of course, I've never actually heard of an occasion on which the BNP have behaved in anything like the manner that Mr Scott alleges Mr Malik's supporters behaved in. But we'll let that pass...
The letter - and a follow-up news story on the same topic - went on to claim that "Malik convinced local Asian voters to vote for Labour candidates... on the grounds that those candidates were 'Muslim brothers'".
Mr Malik, who denies the allegations, appeared in court in London to give evidence against Mr Scott, the newspaper and the newspaper's editor. He said the letter was "his worst nightmare", adding: "In my line of work, if your integrity is damaged you have nothing left."
Really? Then an awful lot of people in your "line of work" must have nothing left, then.
I have no knowledge as to whether Mr Scott's accusations are true, or whether they are merely the lies of an embittered defeated candidate. I am looking to the present case to indicate where the truth lies. However the result pans out, it should be interesting, and should reflect pretty poorly on at least one of our two major parties.
Note: Comments off on this post, for reasons which should be obvious.