• Saturday, August 20, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Nazir Ahmed’s sex abuse trial stopped over ‘disgraceful’ prosecution errors

Lord Nazir Ahmed (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Sarwar Alam

The trial of former Labour peer Nazir Ahmed, on charges of rape and attempted rape, has been stopped at Sheffield Crown Court.

Judge Jeremy Richardson reprimanded the prosecution and police for mishandling the case and committing errors which made a fair trial difficult.

He said the prosecution ‘sabotaged’ the case through their lack of disclosure of evidence to the defence till well after the trial had started. The judge described the error as ‘lamentable’ and ‘disgraceful’. He also said that a new trial in the case shouldn’t be conducted.

However, the prosecution has decided to challenge the ruling in the Appeal Court. What may be in their favour is the fact that Judge Richardson categorically stated that the ending of the trial should not be equated with an acquittal of Lord Ahmed of Rotherham. He even went to the extent of accepting that his decision may make the two complainants – a man and a woman – ‘feel cheated’.

The charges against Ahmed, a former member of the House of Lords, relate to when he was a teenager. He is accused of raping a boy when the latter was 9-10 years of age. There is an additional charge on him of attempting to rape a girl who was five at the time.

The case was originally scheduled to begin around 13 months ago but was delayed due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.

The woman who made the allegations, now in her middle-age, said she didn’t realize what was being done to her at the time.

“I didn’t tell anyone. I thought I let him do that to me and I felt dirty and so unclean and full of shame,” the alleged victim said. The other person who claims to have been sexually assaulted, a middle-aged man now, hadn’t yet appeared before the court.

The 63-year old Ahmed denied the charges. The judge did express his lack of certainty pertaining to the charges. The young age of all those involved at the time and the great amount of time that had passed before the matter came to court led Judge Richardson to state that he “harboured grave misgivings” about the allegations.

This isn’t the first time such a charge has been levelled against Ahmed. In fact, his exit from the House of Lords was caused by a similar allegation. A committee of the House investigated the charges against the then Labour MP of having sexually assaulted a lady who had appealed to him for help in a matter.

The committee, after its enquiry, wanted Ahmed to be expelled from the upper house of the Parliament. He decided to hand in his resignation at that time.

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