Powell Jessavala says county representatives were partly responsible for the death of his father Keki.

Powell was visibly upset when London's Criminal Appeal Court refused to grant him permission to challenge his father's conviction for fiddling expenses at a hearing last Friday.

He told the News: "From the beginning my father said he made a simple honest mistake. We firmly believe he would not take money from the people he'd served for 24 years."

Powell said he did not believe the case should have gone to court.

"A detective inspector with Hampshire Constabulary said he did not think it warranted investigation by the Fraud Squad because in his words it was not corruption in its true sense; it was not complicated and it did not involve a large sum of money. Even the jury asked why an internal investigation wasn't carried out.

"So why did it take more than two years to find a discrepancy in the expenses?

"Is it a coincidence that the initial investigations were made when my father had just stood for vice-chairman of Hampshire County Council and narrowly lost and was due to become chairman of Hart District Council, which would have been the pinnacle of his political career?"

Keki Jessavala was found guilty in December 1999 of 11 charges of false accounting.

He was given a three-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £1,500 costs.

Friday's Appeal Court hearing was told that Jessavala, who died from a heart attack at his home in Heron Close, Church Crookham, in July 2000 aged 64, was elected to Hampshire County Council in 1981 and was appointed to sit on the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Community Health Council.

In both capacities he was entitled to claim expenses, but he could not claim twice for the same expense.

The prosecution case was that between May 1996 and June 1998 Jessavala made a series of double claims for his expenses to both Hampshire and the CHC for attending the same meeting.

"My father was entitled to claim from both councils for different expenses but it wasn't clear who was paying the mileage," said Powell, who pointed out the format of the forms had since been changed.

"He left that part of the form blank for the officers to fill in. Other councillors filled in forms the same way as my father."

Powell said his father paid £1,364 back to Hampshire County Council at their request before the court case.

"The final figure estimated in court that my father had overcharged was £402 over a two-year period," he said.

"But despite repeated requests to the county they have still not paid back or accepted they should return the £962 my father had given them.

"Could it be that in doing so it would show what a complete mess-up they have made of their own calculations?

"I believe senior officers and members of Hampshire County Council are responsible for this personal and political witch hunt.

"My father dedicated his adult life to community work, most of which was unpaid. Nothing was too much for him if someone was in need."

Powell added: "We've spent £20,000 of retirement money fighting a case that never should have happened.

"It broke my father when he was convicted because the council work was his life.

"He had been ill for a while and without a doubt the pressure of the court case took its toll.

"Hampshire County Council has got away with effective manslaughter."

Judge Peter Fox, sitting with Lord Justice Latham and Mr Justice Curtis, said they could find no new evidence to persuade them that Jessavala's conviction was in any way unsafe.

But Powell told last Friday's hearing: "Tomorrow my 11-year-old nephew could have been visiting his grandfather at home.

"Instead he will be making a trip to Fleet cemetery to visit his grandfather.

"Why? Because of the actions of senior officers and senior members of Hampshire County Council, who are responsible for the effective manslaughter of my dear father.

"I believe it is a sad day for society when a man who had devoted his life to the community can be convicted and sentenced for something he had not done deliberately."