Sunday, 29 May 2022

Tory MP found guilty of sexually assaulting 15-year-old boy

Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan is found guilty of sexually assaulting 15-year-old boy at house in Staffordshire in 2008

  • Suspended Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old
  • Jurors heard he dragged the teenager upstairs in a Staffordshire house in 2008 and forced him to drink G&T 
  • The 48-year-old, who is gay, was elected as the MP for Wakefield in the December 2019 general election  
  • Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party called on Khan to immediately resign following the verdict  

Disgraced Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan is facing jail and the end of his political career as he was today convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after forcing him to drink gin and tonic at a house party in Staffordshire in 2008.

A court heard that the 48-year-old Tory had been invited to celebrate the Catholic schoolboy’s sister’s 21st birthday at her home as ‘friend of a friend’ before dragging his victim upstairs, pushing him onto a bed and asking him to watch porn before the attack. 

Khan appeared wearing a dark suit holding a walking stick and showed no emotion when hearing his guilty verdict this afternoon. He had previously denied sexual assault and accused his traumatised victim of lying – but jurors heard how he had also drugged and assaulted an aid worker in Pakistan nearly three years after attacking the boy. 

It can now also be revealed that the disgraced MP tweeted in support of press freedom on the day he tried to gag the media from reporting his name over the charge of sexual assault. 

The Catholic teenager, now in his late 20s, told a jury he was left feeling ‘scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised’ after the future politician touched his feet and legs, coming within ‘a hair’s breadth’ of his privates, as he tried to sleep in a top bunkbed.

He said he wasn’t ‘taken very seriously’ when he made the allegation to the Conservative Party press office days before Khan was elected as the MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire in the December 2019 general election, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The victim made a complaint to police days after Khan helped Prime Minister Boris Johnson win a large Commons majority by taking Wakefield in the so-called ‘red wall’ that had formed Labour’s heartlands in the Midlands and northern England.

No further action had been taken because the youngster did not want to make a formal complaint. However, the victim told jurors ‘it all came flooding back’ when he learned Khan was standing in the 2019 election.

Khan, who is gay and a Muslim, had also made a lewd comment about the boy’s older brother who was wearing a kilt. A court heard he asked if he was wearing the kilt like a ‘true Scotsman’ lifted it up to see if he was wearing underwear.  

The judge, Mr Justice Baker, said he will sentence Khan on a later date. 

Suspended Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan has today been convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after forcing him to drink gin and tonic at a house party in Staffordshire in 2008 

A court heard that the disgraced 48-year-old dragged the Catholic teenager upstairs, pushed him onto a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack 

It has also emerged that Khan tweeted in support of press freedom on the day he tried to gag the media from reporting his name over a charge of sexually assaulting a schoolboy.

He attempted to stop key details of the case – including the age of his victim, his own homosexuality, and even his fondness for a gin and tonic – coming into the public domain.

The disgraced Wakefield MP was thwarted in his bid for secrecy unprecedented in a case not involving national security following two expensive legal challenges from media organisations.

The full details of how the story finally came to be told can be reported for the first time after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after a party in 2008.

The victim came forward days after Khan was elected in 2019 and gave three video-recorded interviews to police – two in December 2019 and one in February last year, when he drove almost 200 miles from his home during the pandemic’s second wave.

Khan was sent a questionnaire by Staffordshire Police rather than being interviewed under caution at a station because of ‘Covid protocols in place at the time’, providing written answers on May 7, 2020.

Neither Staffordshire Police nor the Crown Prosecution Service informed the media or the public when Khan was charged by postal requisition – the point at which suspects in criminal cases are routinely named.

His first appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court by videolink on June 3 last year did not appear on the public or press lists.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring granted the MP an interim anonymity order ahead of another unlisted hearing, which the CPS refused to confirm was taking place as well as what charge Khan was facing.

On June 17 last year, the day Khan argued in court he should be granted anonymity, he retweeted then foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s message about ‘press freedom’ in Hong Kong.

Khan had previously spoken in the Commons against Extinction Rebellion’s efforts to ‘constrain press freedom’ after the protest group blocked a newspaper printing press.

His lawyers said that as a serving MP there were concerns about his safety and argued he should not be named in court because it would breach his right to life (Article 2), protection from ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’ (Article 3) and right to a private life (Article 8) under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The application included statements from former British diplomat and intelligence officer Richard Barrett and former senior RAF officer Afzal Ashraf, a letter from DUP MP Jim Shannon on House of Commons paper and openly available information about Ahmadi Muslims.

But a risk assessment by West Yorkshire police counter-terrorism security advisers concluded that there was ‘no objective threat to defendant’s life that would arise from being named as the defendant in these allegations’.

Rejecting Khan’s application, Mr Goldspring noted the MP’s earlier attempts to prevent the press reporting the victim was a minor gave ‘insight into the defendant’s real concerns’.

‘Damage to reputation is not a ground for making of an order, open justice is and should remain a corner stone of democracy and the rule of law,’ he said.

Khan was given until 4pm the following day to challenge the decision in the High Court before the order automatically expired.

However, Khan’s lawyers instead sought a review of the decision by the Old Bailey’s most senior judge Mark Lucraft QC at a hastily arranged hearing, where his name was listed as ‘IK’.

The judge told Khan he did not have jurisdiction to change the decision and would have agreed with the Chief Magistrate even if he did, meaning the charge against Khan could be reported for the first time.

The publicity prompted a second complainant – who said Khan performed a sex act on him in Pakistan in 2010 – to come forward.

Prosecutor Sean Larkin QC said during legal argument it was a ‘mere technicality’ the MP was not charged with a further offence because it was outside the jurisdiction before a change in UK law.

On the first day of his trial, Khan’s name appeared only as asterisks on the public Southwark Crown Court list and he launched another bid for reporting restrictions, of which journalists had no prior warning.

His lawyer Gudrun Young QC said the court had been informed weeks earlier, but both the judge and prosecutor said they had only been notified the day before the trial.

Khan argued that as an Ahmadi Muslim, both the consumption of alcohol and homosexuality are strictly prohibited within his faith, and the reporting of those matters would expose him to ‘a risk to his safety both here and abroad’.

The ‘evidence’ ran to more than 200 pages, including claims a bullet was found in his constituency office in January 2020, dozens of tweets, including one of a noose, and reference to the murders of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker made a temporary order, meaning the prosecution opening could not be fully reported, to allow the media time to make representations.

Key parts of the complainant’s evidence could not be reported live, but the order was lifted at the end of the second day of the trial – at which Khan was allowed to sit outside the dock because the court’s microphones did not work – after news organisations instructed counsel at an estimated cost of £4,000.

 

Khan will be thrown out of the House of Commons if he is handed a prison sentence of more than a year, or otherwise could be subject to a petition to oust him in the recall process. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party called for Khan’s immediate resignation as an MP following the verdict.

A party spokesman said: ‘Imran Ahmad Khan should immediately resign so a by-election can take place and the people of Wakefield can get the representation they deserve.’ 

The judge released Khan on bail, telling him: ‘You have been convicted by a jury of this offence of sexual assault and you will have to be sentenced in due course.

‘I make it clear that all sentencing options, including immediate custody, are being considered by the court.’

Tory MPs Crispin Blunt and Sir Peter Bottomley, the father of the House of Commons, attended court today, while a third, Adam Holloway, earlier provided a character statement used as part of Khan’s defence case.

Khan was born in Wakefield, where he attended the independent Silcoates School. He went to university at the Pushkin Institute in Russia and graduated from King’s College in London with a bachelor’s degree in war studies.

The 48-year-old worked for the UN as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu before entering Parliament. 

Khan’s 15-year-old victim told a court that he ‘vividly’ remembered the gin bottle Khan took to the party, the smell of the spirit in the glass tumbler, and the fizz of the bubbles as he was forced by Khan to drink the cocktail.

He said Khan also watched him do pull-ups, asked him to watch pornography and told him he was ‘good looking’ in a ‘love whisper’ in his ear, which was ‘disgusting and really slimy’.

The victim said he pretended to be asleep in the top bunkbed before Khan reached through the wooden bars to touch his feet.

‘He was drunk because I could hear his heavy breathing,’ he said.

The complainant said the ‘slow caressing’ continued as Khan ‘worked his way around the bed’ and ‘up my leg’, despite him telling the MP to stop.

He said he ‘froze’, adding: ‘I freaked out and jumped out of the bed and ran as fast as I could.’

The boy’s brother, who was 18 at the time, told jurors he was also the victim of an ‘assault’ when Khan asked if he was wearing his kilt like a ‘true Scotsman’ – referring to the tradition of wearing the garment without underwear – before lifting it up with both hands.

During legal argument, prosecutor Sean Larkin QC said it was a ‘mere technicality’ that Khan had not been charged with a second sexual assault of a man at a guesthouse in Pakistan, where the MP was working on a Foreign Office-funded project.

The alleged victim, then in his mid-20s, said Khan performed a sex act on him in his sleep after offering him a sleeping pill as they shared a room following an evening of drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana.

The man told jurors he reported the November 2010 incident to the British High Commission and the Foreign Office but did not want to go to police in Pakistan because of Khan’s ‘powerful connections’ in the military and government.

He came forward as a witness after hearing Khan had been charged with sexual assault following the MP’s failed bid to gag the press from reporting his name.

It is understood a charge could not be brought because the alleged assault took place outside the jurisdiction before a change in the UK law.

Khan claimed the sexual activity was consensual.

It has also emerged that Khan tweeted in support of press freedom on the day he tried to gag the media from reporting his name over a charge of sexually assaulting a schoolboy.

He attempted to stop key details of the case – including the age of his victim, his own homosexuality, and even his fondness for a gin and tonic – coming into the public domain.

The disgraced Wakefield MP was thwarted in his bid for secrecy unprecedented in a case not involving national security following two expensive legal challenges from media organisations.

The full details of how the story finally came to be told can be reported for the first time after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after a party in 2008.

The victim came forward days after Khan was elected in 2019 and gave three video-recorded interviews to police – two in December 2019 and one in February last year, when he drove almost 200 miles from his home during the pandemic’s second wave.

Khan was sent a questionnaire by Staffordshire Police rather than being interviewed under caution at a station because of ‘Covid protocols in place at the time’, providing written answers on May 7, 2020.

Neither Staffordshire Police nor the Crown Prosecution Service informed the media or the public when Khan was charged by postal requisition – the point at which suspects in criminal cases are routinely named.

His first appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court by videolink on June 3 last year did not appear on the public or press lists.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring granted the MP an interim anonymity order ahead of another unlisted hearing, which the CPS refused to confirm was taking place as well as what charge Khan was facing.

On June 17 last year, the day Khan argued in court he should be granted anonymity, he retweeted then foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s message about ‘press freedom’ in Hong Kong.

Khan had previously spoken in the Commons against Extinction Rebellion’s efforts to ‘constrain press freedom’ after the protest group blocked a newspaper printing press.

His lawyers said that as a serving MP there were concerns about his safety and argued he should not be named in court because it would breach his right to life (Article 2), protection from ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’ (Article 3) and right to a private life (Article 8) under the European Convention of Human Rights. 

Khan was found guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court today after around five hours of deliberations

Conservative Party press office did not take ‘very seriously’ the allegation that Khan had sexually abused 15-year-old boy when ‘victim’ told them about it days before 2019 election, court hears 

A court was told that the Conservative Party press office did not take ‘very seriously’ allegations that a 15-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by Khan before he stood as an election candidate. 

The then-teenager did not want to make a formal complaint at the time but told Southwark Crown Court ‘it all came flooding back’ when he discovered Khan was standing to become the MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire in the December 2019 general election. 

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court, the victim’s parents both broke down in tears as they told how their son was left ‘inconsolable’ and ‘shaking’ after the incident at a house in Staffordshire. 

He went to police days after Khan helped Prime Minister Boris Johnson win a large Commons majority by taking the constituency in the so-called ‘red wall’ that had formed Labour’s heartlands in the Midlands and northern England.

But the alleged victim, who voted Labour, told a jury that his complaint was ‘not motivated by political reasons’.

‘If it was, I would’ve done it before the general election,’ he said. ‘I also contacted the Tory press office, trying to inform them what had happened. I wasn’t taken very seriously.’

He continued: ‘I explained that Imran Khan was running for MP and had just sort of been hurriedly put through. I explained this and said ‘He sexually assaulted me when I was a child, when I was 15′.’

He said the woman he spoke to sounded ‘shocked’ and passed him on to someone else who sounded more ‘stern’ and asked if he had any ‘proof’.

‘I said ‘Yes, there’s a police report’ and she said ‘Well…’, and that was it. I said ‘I’m going to the police’, and she said ‘Well, you do that’.’ 

The application included statements from former British diplomat and intelligence officer Richard Barrett and former senior RAF officer Afzal Ashraf, a letter from DUP MP Jim Shannon on House of Commons paper and openly available information about Ahmadi Muslims.

But a risk assessment by West Yorkshire police counter-terrorism security advisers concluded that there was ‘no objective threat to defendant’s life that would arise from being named as the defendant in these allegations’.

Rejecting Khan’s application, Mr Goldspring noted the MP’s earlier attempts to prevent the press reporting the victim was a minor gave ‘insight into the defendant’s real concerns’. 

‘Damage to reputation is not a ground for making of an order, open justice is and should remain a corner stone of democracy and the rule of law,’ he said.

Khan was given until 4pm the following day to challenge the decision in the High Court before the order automatically expired.

However, Khan’s lawyers instead sought a review of the decision by the Old Bailey’s most senior judge Mark Lucraft QC at a hastily arranged hearing, where his name was listed as ‘IK’.

The judge told Khan he did not have jurisdiction to change the decision and would have agreed with the Chief Magistrate even if he did, meaning the charge against Khan could be reported for the first time.

The publicity prompted a second complainant – who said Khan performed a sex act on him in Pakistan in 2010 – to come forward.

Prosecutor Sean Larkin QC said during legal argument it was a ‘mere technicality’ the MP was not charged with a further offence because it was outside the jurisdiction before a change in UK law.

On the first day of his trial, Khan’s name appeared only as asterisks on the public Southwark Crown Court list and he launched another bid for reporting restrictions, of which journalists had no prior warning.

His lawyer Gudrun Young QC said the court had been informed weeks earlier, but both the judge and prosecutor said they had only been notified the day before the trial.

Khan argued that as an Ahmadi Muslim, both the consumption of alcohol and homosexuality are strictly prohibited within his faith, and the reporting of those matters would expose him to ‘a risk to his safety both here and abroad’.

The ‘evidence’ ran to more than 200 pages, including claims a bullet was found in his constituency office in January 2020, dozens of tweets, including one of a noose, and reference to the murders of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker made a temporary order, meaning the prosecution opening could not be fully reported, to allow the media time to make representations.

Key parts of the complainant’s evidence could not be reported live, but the order was lifted at the end of the second day of the trial – at which Khan was allowed to sit outside the dock because the court’s microphones did not work – after news organisations instructed counsel at an estimated cost of £4,000.

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