Mohammad Asghar

Mohammad Asghar (30 September 1945[2] – 16 June 2020),[3] known as Oscar,[1] was a Welsh politician who was a Member of the Senedd for South Wales East. He was a member of the Welsh Conservatives, and previously of Welsh Labour, and Plaid Cymru.

Mohammad Asghar

Mohammad Asghar, June 2016
Member of the Senedd
for South Wales East
In office
3 May 2007  16 June 2020
Preceded byLaura Anne Jones
Succeeded byLaura Anne Jones
Personal details
Born(1945-09-30)30 September 1945
Peshawar, North West Frontier Province, British India
(Now in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan)
Died16 June 2020(2020-06-16) (aged 74)
Newport, Wales[1]
Political partyWelsh Conservatives
Other political
Plaid Cymru (until 2009)
Welsh Labour (mid 1990s)

He came to prominence after being elected to the Welsh Assembly in 2007 as a member of Plaid Cymru on the list for South Wales East.[4] He was the first ethnic minority and Muslim Member of the Welsh Assembly,[5] as well as the first Assembly Member who was a member of a political party to defect to another party.[6]

Early life

Born in Peshawar (then in British India) to Aslam Khan and Zubaida Aslam, Asghar gained a BA from Peshawar University[2] before moving to Wales to complete a course in accountancy in Newport.

Political career

Asghar initially joined the Conservative Party, remaining a member for some two decades, later joining the Labour Party in the 1990s.[7] He joined Plaid Cymru some time after becoming Wales' first Muslim councillor, representing Victoria ward on Newport City Council.[8] He had stood for Plaid Cymru in general elections. His daughter Natasha Asghar also stood as a Plaid Cymru candidate in the 2007 Elections,[9] and also joined the Conservative party at the same time he did so.[10]

On 8 December 2009, Asghar became the first AM to cross the floor, defecting from Plaid Cymru to the Conservative Party. He claimed that he felt "out of tune" with Plaid policies, described himself as a royalist and unionist,[11] and stated that he felt like "a little parrot in a jungle".[12] Plaid Cymru called on Asghar to resign his seat following his defection.[11]

Expenses scandal and corruption

Issues were raised regarding two staff members remaining on permanent paid leave until the Welsh assembly was dissolved in 2011.[13] Asghar has gone on record as stating that MEP Jillian Evans' offer to give his daughter work experience was a significant factor in his decision to defect from the Labour party to Plaid Cymru.[7]

Controversy over 2011 election candidacy

In August 2010, Asghar was selected to stand for the Welsh Conservatives in the 2011 election.[14] In September 2010 David Fouweather, the Chair of the South-East Wales Area Council of the Welsh Conservatives, called for a full investigation into events that preceded the endorsement of Mohammad Asghar as a regional list candidate.[15] In a letter to the Chair of the Welsh Conservatives, Fouweather wrote:

"There were numerous telephone calls made to myself by a representative of the party chairman’s office in London. These calls made it quite clear to me that Mohammad Asghar had to be re-adopted at all costs because of the embarrassment that it would create for the party."[15]

"I was told that failure to re-adopt Mr Asghar could lead to my possible suspension from the party whilst an investigation was carried out to see if there were any racial motives for him not being adopted. This I found deeply offensive, resulting in a great deal of pressure being put upon me to deliver the desired outcome for the party hierarchy."[15]

Following his call for an investigation into Asghar's selection, Fouweather was asked by the Conservative Party to stand down as Chair of the South-East Wales Area Council.[16]

Newport council election 2011

In December 2011, Asghar emailed fellow Conservatives asking them to support his wife in a vacant Newport City Council seat two days after the incumbent Les Knight had died. The email read:

I am very sad about Coun Les Knight although it seems that things are already moving on in terms of the Allt-yr-yn seat. I would be very grateful if you could consider Firdaus Asghar to stand in the elections from Allt-yr-yn. I am sure you are aware that Firdaus has lived in the ward for more than 20 years and worked closely with Coun Knight on many constituency matters.[17]

One of the Conservative councillors who received the email said:

I was extremely shocked to get this email, which I found in appallingly bad taste. I have known Les and his wife for more than 30 years and am very sad at his death. When I received the email the funeral arrangements hadn’t even been made. Sending an email like this was callous and in extremely poor taste. I can’t imagine what was meant by ‘things are already moving on in terms of the Allt-yr-yn seat.'[17]

Asghar later apologised for the email, and confirmed that his wife would not be standing for election in the forthcoming elections.[18][19]

Mosque election dispute

In 2011, Asghar was involved in a dispute with members of the Jamia Mosque and Al-Noor Mosque, the two largest Sunni mosques in Newport, during which some members accused him of aggressively opposing the introduction of democratic elections for the mosques' leadership.[20] Asghar was subsequently issued with an ex parte court injunction, forbidding him from attending either mosque.[21] In December 2011, members of the two mosques applied to have the injunction extended. The injunction was instead lifted, when a Cardiff County Court judge instructed the two parties to come to a private agreement.[20][22]

Awards and nominations

In January 2014 and 2015, Asghar was nominated for the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.[23][24]

Personal life

He was a qualified pilot and spoke Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi fluently.[25]

Asghar married his wife, Firdaus, in 1983; they had one daughter.[25]

He ran with the Olympic torch in 1964 and campaigned for Wales to have its own cricket team.[25]


Asghar died on 16 June 2020 after being rushed to hospital earlier in the day, [3] his funeral took place in Newport Central Mosque on 25 June 2020.[26]


  1. "Conservative MS Mohammad Asghar has died after being rushed to hospital". ITV News. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020. The Welsh Ambulance Service confirmed they were called to an 'emergency' in Newport on Tuesday morning.
  2. "ASGHAR, Mohammad, "Who's Who 2009"". A & C Black, 2008. Online ed., Oxford: OUP. 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  3. "Welsh Conservative MS Mohammad Asghar has died aged 74". Western Mail. 16 June 2020.
  4. Labour given a bloody nose icWales, 4 May 2007
  5. First ethnic minority AM elected BBC News, 4 May 2007
  6. "Plaid Assembly Member joins Welsh Conservatives". Welsh Conservatives. 8 December 2009.
  7. "Matt Withers: AM has been promiscuous with his political parties". Wales on Sunday. 13 December 2009. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012.
  8. Gwent politician survives bomb attack, South Wales Argus, 19 October 2007.
  9. Young Candidates, Plaid Cymru
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Plaid AM defects to Conservatives, BBC News online, 8 December 2009.
  12. "Plaid Cymru AM joins the Conservatives",, 8 December 2009.
  13. "Daughter of AM who left Plaid to join the Tories is now on his staff". Western Mail. 26 January 2010.
  14. "Tories endorse Mohammad Asghar for 2011 regional list". BBC News. 28 August 2010.
  15. "Conservatives refuse to confirm role of London official in racism storm". Western Mail. 17 September 2010.
  16. "Councillor sidelined over row". Western Mail. 13 November 2010.
  17. "Tory AM accused of 'appalling bad taste' over death". Western Mail. 15 December 2011.
  18. "Mohammad Asghar sorry for lobbying for wife after councillor's death". BBC News. 15 December 2011.
  19. "AM apologises for 'callous' election e-mail". South Wales Argus. 15 December 2011.
  20. "Deal after Newport mosque row with AM Mohammad Asghar". BBC News. 22 December 2011.
  21. "Judge to rule on mosque ban for Tory Muslim AM Mohammad Asghar". Western Mail. 22 December 2011.
  22. "Gwent AM in mosque injunction row". South Wales Argus. 23 December 2011.
  23. "British Muslim Awards 2014 winners". Asian Image. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  24. "British Muslim Awards 2015 finalists unveiled". Asian Image. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  25. "Tory Senedd member Mohammad Asghar has died". BBC News. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  26. "Mohammad Asghar funeral held after procession through Newport". South Wales Argus. 25 June 2020.

Offices held

Senedd Cymru
Preceded by
Laura Anne Jones
Member of the Senedd for South Wales East
Succeeded by
Laura Anne Jones