TORIES are standing by a council election candidate in Dewsbury who has a counterfeiting conviction.
Shehzad Hussain, 42, was backed by local Conservatives despite serving a suspended jail sentence.
The youth worker was convicted in 2008 for selling fake designer clothes on eBay under the user name ‘Twin Towers 11’.
Mr Hussain is set to challenge Coun Mumtaz Hussain (Lab) for the Dewsbury West ward in May’s council election.
He told a five-member panel from the Conservative Party’s Dewsbury branch of his conviction. The association’s committee
convened in December to pick a new candidate after previous contender Beth Prescott stood down.
Branch chairman Alan Burton said they backed him then and now after hearing he had turned his life around.
In House Training, a thriving business founded by Mr Hussain in Ravensthorpe, was nominated for a Prince’s Trust award.
Mr Burton said: “He admitted in the interview he had a conviction and that it involved counterfeit clothes.
“I told him if it came out he might have to expect some stick because the opposition will do anything to win.
“But he said he didn’t care about that because he wants to serve the community.”
Mr Hussain received a one-year prison term suspended for 18 months and was told to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
Leeds Crown Court heard in April 2008 trading standards officers raided a first-floor warehouse above a supermarket on Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe.
Hundreds of fake items marked as brands including Lacoste, Timberland and Armani were found.
Father-of-four Mr Hussain, who admitted 24 counts of selling counterfeit goods, sold them on eBay with the user name ‘Twin Towers 11’.
Mr Burton said: “I’m both a Jew and against all forms of terrorism so that doesn’t sit well with me.”
But he said the Tories will back him on the basis that he made a mistake and people deserve a second chance.
Mr Burton also insisted the selection process was rigorous after a source called The Press with concerns.
The source, who did not want to be named but claimed to be a Tory supporter, alleged Mr Hussain was not subjected to proper scrutiny.
He said: “I’m concerned about why someone would have a user name on eBay like ‘Twin Towers 11’.
“We’re talking about a reference to a terrorist atrocity in which nearly 3,000 died. I think that’s disgusting.”
Mr Burton said Mr Hussain was asked the same questions as all prospective candidates and the conviction was also covered in detail.
He said: “Mr Hussain interviewed very well. He’s not what I’d call a traditional Conservative, but he’s extremely passionate about the community.
“He’s not in this for glory or politics. He believes young people in Dewsbury have been let down and wants to do something.
“And if Prince Charles is prepared to accept him then he’s good enough for the Conservative Party.”
• Coun Mumtaz Hussain was elected in 2010 with 3,558 votes. The Tories came a distant third behind the Lib Dems with 926 votes.