LORD Nazir Ahmed resigned from the House of Lords last Saturday (14) after a parliamentary panel upheld the findings of the Lords Commissioner for Standards that the peer breached the code of conduct for members.
The conduct committee’s report, which was seen by seen by Lord Ahmed before last Saturday, recommended that the peer should have been expelled, but he quit last weekend.
Chaired by Lord Mance, the conduct committee dismissed Lord Ahmed’s appeal against both the finding of breaches of the Code of Conduct and the recommend sanction of expulsion from the House.
He was found to have failed to “act on his personal honour in the discharge of his parliamentary activities by agreeing to use his position as a member of the House to help a member of the public but then; sexually assaulting the complainant, lying to the complainant about his intentions to help her with a complaint to the Metropolitan Police regarding exploitation by a faith healer, exploiting the complainant emotionally and sexually despite knowing she was vulnerable.”
The investigation follows a complaint by a member of the public, Tahira Zaman, who approached Lord Ahmed to help her make a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about a faith healer whom she believed had exploited innocent men and women financially and sexually.
Zaman accused Lord Ahmed of making “unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature” with her and he was alleged to have misled her by “using his influence to help her, when in fact his aim was to have sex with her”.
Lord Ahmed was found to have written to the Metropolitan Police on behalf of Zaman on House of Lords’ headed paper. In 2018, the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards rejected the complaint over the narrower scope of “parliamentary duties”, but a revision in 2019 brought this case within the scope of the code, the conduct committee found.
The commissioner concluded that “by sexually assaulting Ms Zaman on 2 March 2017, Lord Ahmed was therefore in breach of the Code by failing to act on his personal honour.” And that “by failing to progress Ms Zaman’s case and lying about his intentions Lord Ahmed was acting without honesty or integrity. As such he was therefore failing to act on his personal honour and was in breach of the Code.”
There were additional findings by the commissioner: that “Lord Ahmed exploited Ms Zaman emotionally and sexually even though he knew she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression”, thus exacerbating the seriousness of his breaches of the code.
The commissioner also found that “Lord Ahmed persistently gave deliberately inaccurate and misleading accounts to conceal his behaviour towards Ms Zaman … I consider that in conducting himself in this manner he has failed genuinely to co-operate with my investigation. He has failed to act on his personal honour, as evidenced by his dishonesty and lack of integrity.”
Lord Ahmed appealed on four grounds, including that the commissioner was “plainly wrong in her finding”; points of process; the emergence of significant new evidence; and the severity of the sanction.
The commissioner subsequently investigated the new evidence and concluded that the new material did not warrant changing any of the conclusions or findings set out in the first report, nor for altering recommended sanction.
The Conduct Committee dismissed the appeal of Lord Ahmed and recommended that he be expelled from the House under Standing Order 12 (Expulsion or suspension of a member).
The committee’s report will be put to the House for approval on Thursday (19).