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Born in Tanga, Tanzania, Khanbhai worked in the family business and took a degree in pharmacy at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, then a masters' in politics, philosophy and economics at the University of Oxford. He also became a member of the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union. Khanbhai joined the Conservative Party, and stood for them in Norwich South at the 1997 UK general election, but was not elected. At the European Parliament election, 1999, he was elected from third position on the Conservative Party list in the East of England, becoming the first British Muslim MEP.
In 2004, Khanbhai repaid £7,000 of wrongly claimed travel expenses; although he lived in Sevenoaks, Kent, he had registered a boatyard in Wroxham as his home address. In light of this expenses scandal, he was deselected by his party, and did not stand in the European Parliament election, 2004. He subsequently claimed that he had been treated differently to other Conservative MEPs in similar positions, ascribing this to racist elements within the party.
- ^ Priya Srinivasan, "Euro MP of Indian origin to work for pro-Third-World tariffs", Rediff, 23 June 1999
- ^ "First ever Muslim elected in European elections", Muslim News, 24 June 1999
- ^ "Expenses probe MEP is deselected", BBC News, 12 May 2004
- ^ Antony Barnett, "Muslim Tory MEP slams 'racist' party", The Guardian, 23 May 2004