Lord Nazir, who is on bail in a historic child abuse case, in a statement says he is extremely disappointed by the Conduct Committee decision to expel him from the parliament…. reports Kaliph Anaz
Disgraced peer Lord Nazir Ahmed, who is facing formal expulsion from the House of Lords on Thursday, will file a case at European Court of human Rights to challenge the decision of the Lords Conduct Committee and the findings of the Lords Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff.
Lord Nazir, who is on bail in a historic child abuse case, in a statement says he is extremely disappointed by the Conduct Committee decision to expel him from the parliament. He formally quits and submit a request for Retirement hours before the panel submitting its report. The nine-member panel was headed by for Supreme Court Justice Mance.
“I am extremely disappointed by the report of the conduct committee, which is based on a flawed and unfair investigation process,” the Lord said in his statement. “I have always said, and maintain, that the allegations contained in the report are not true. Given this, I am now going to continue pursuing my appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to remedy this injustice.”
The Lords Conduct Committee earlier concluded that Lord Ahmed of Rotherham emotionally and sexually exploited Tahira Zaman, who came to him for help in 2017.
The Lords Conduct Committee said Lord Ahmed had exploited Ms Zaman, despite knowing she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression. They rejected the appeal from Lord Ahmed and recommended for his expulsion.
Tahira Zaman, a single mother of two, said that she had approached Lord Ahmed because she thought he could help her get the Metropolitan Police to investigate a fake faith healer who duped her with donations and part of a sex racket.
Lord Ahmed wrote to the Met Police Commissioner on headed paper on 2 March, and he and Ms Zaman met at a restaurant in east London in February 2017 to discuss the case. After dinner, Ms Zaman alleged that Lord Ahmed groped her upper thigh.
The Commissioner for Standards’ investigation found that Lord Ahmed had sexually assaulted her.
Ms Zaman says she was shocked by his behaviour and broke off contact. But, encouraged by a friend, she messaged Lord Ahmed on 14 July that year to ask if he had received a reply from the police. He said he had and they arranged to meet at his house in east London to discuss it. Ms Zaman is accusing the Lord of spiking her tea before a sexual assault. The Lord continue to promise her of help and Tahira says that they carry on meeting at Lord Ahmed’s house where they had sex. She believed that they were in a relationship. But Ms Zaman says that after two months he made it clear he wasn’t going to leave his wife and the affair ended. She says she realised she had been exploited.
She is also accusing the Lord of sharing her personal contact details with his subordinate and friends in Pakistan. A parliamentary assistant of the Lord forcefully deleted messages from Ms Zaman’s phone, which she retrieved by using a software called Dr Fone.
Ms Zaman first complained to the House of Lords about Lord Ahmed’s behaviour in January 2018. But they rejected the complaint on technical reasons.
She approached Asian Lite newspaper and then BBC’s Newsnight team after the Commissioner for Standards told her Lord Ahmed could not be investigated because the code of conduct only covered his parliamentary “duties” – mainly proceedings of the House of Lords.
Newsnight began to investigate the Lords’ decision not to accept Ms Zaman’s complaint, for a film broadcast in February last year.
Lord Carlile QC, a former deputy high court judge, told Newsnight that the Commissioner for Standards had “got it wrong”, adding: “If someone comes to you for help, particularly if they’re vulnerable and you form a sexual relationship, actually that’s disgraceful.”
The Commissioner for Standards denied this, telling Newsnight that was a misunderstanding of the code of conduct. Ten weeks after the film was broadcast, the House of Lords changed the wording of the code to cover parliamentary “activities”, rather than just “duties”. It was retrospective and so covered Lord Ahmed’s behaviour. Ms Zaman re-submitted her complaint, which led to a detailed investigation by the Commissioner for Standards.
Lord Nazir will be the first person to expel from the House of Parliament.
Welcoming the Conduct Committee decision, Ms Zaman told BBC: “I feel elated and relieved because the whole experience for me was quite traumatising. I’m still digesting, digesting it. I keep on telling myself that I’ve got what I wanted – I wanted justice.”
Lord Nazir’s Appeal
Lord Nazir said the investigation has ruined his personal life, The Lord claimed the allegations affected his activities as a community leader. He challenged the panel decision by claiming different Asian communities follow different norms in religious and personal life.
“This investigation has devastated my family life and almost even my public life,” the Lord said in his appeal. “Since the BBC “Newsnight” programme, my Lord, I have not been to the House of Lords. Yes, my wife is not well; she has cancer. Yes, I have been looking after her, but I did not attend a single session.
“I have not been to Pakistan or Kashmir since then, because it was reported widely, and until I clear my name I cannot appear in public. I have attended a few events in Europe. I have not attended many events in this country, but just to show my face. I have kept away from all these normal events because of this.
“My Lords, I believe that the victims of sexual misconduct deserve sympathy and support. When they are making false allegations, however, it undermines the system and the process, and it affects the credibility of genuine witnesses. I genuinely believe that. As I have said, this complainant has been everywhere, just to destroy me. She made no secret of it. She went to every newspaper. She was more interested in Pakistani TV channels and Pakistani newspapers, because she knows that that is where I appear quite a lot, but she also contacted many Members of this House of Lords, for instance. I can tell you that Lord Dholakia once stopped me in the corridors and said, “You know, somebody has made a serious allegation”. Members of Parliament in the House of Commons have told me very similar things. There was a deliberate attempt to affect my personal reputation and affect my family life.”
Lord Nazir made history when he became the first Muslim, Kashmiri, and Pakistani to enter the House of Lords as a Labour peer in 1998. Prior to that he was a councillor at Rotherham. He was a confidante of then prime minister Tony Blair. He later turned against him over Iraq War.
According to Ms Zaman, there are at least five other women want to take action against the Lord but are afraid of doing so because of community wrath and family honour.
The House of Lords Conduct Committee submitted the report on Monday recommending the Lord to be expelled from the House with immediate effect. Lord Nazir Ahmed on a damage control mission later contacted a Pakistani TV station to announce his “Retirement.”
The Committee accused the Pakistani-origin Lord of bringing shame to the august House.
“His use of his parliamentary status to offer illusory help to a vulnerable Ms Zaman undermines the reputation of the House of Lords as a whole, as it undermines trust in the honesty and trustworthiness of its members,” the Committee said in the report.
The report will be formally tabled in the House on Thursday.
The Lord was involved in many other controversies too. He was convicted and jailed in 2009 for a reckless driving accident. He had sent text messages while driving, which hit a driver of a stationary car stranded on the M1 highway.
In 2013, Lord Nazir Ahmed blamed his conviction in the driving accident on a “Jewish conspiracy”. The comment led to the Labour Party suspending him; he resigned from the party later that year.
He will appear at Sheffield court on January 25, 2021 in a historic sexual assault case. They were charged with historical sexual offences against minors. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.