Tory MP branded 'disgraceful' for defending convicted child sex abuser Imran Ahmad Khan

11 April 2022, 16:16 | Updated: 12 April 2022, 16:19

Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan (left) has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy, 15. His friend and colleague Crispin Blunt MP has called the conviction an "international scandal".
Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan (left) has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy, 15. His friend and colleague Crispin Blunt MP has called the conviction an "international scandal". Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has been called "disgraceful" after he defended fellow Tory, Imran Ahmad Khan, who's been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

The Tory MP for Reigate said he was "utterly appalled" and "distraught" at what he called the "dreadful miscarriage of justice" following Khan's conviction.

He branded the verdict an "international scandal".

Read the latest: Tory MP resigns from LGBT group over statement defending sex abuser Imran Ahmad Khan

Khan, 48, the MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire, was expelled from the Party with "immediate effect" on Monday after a jury found him guilty of sex assault on a 15-year-old boy.

Khan dragged the teenager upstairs, pushed him onto a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire, a court heard.

The victim, now in his late 20s, told a jury he was left feeling "scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised" after Khan touched his feet and legs, coming within "a hair's breadth" of his privates, as he tried to sleep in a top bunkbed.

Khan, who is gay and a Muslim, denied sexual assault, claiming he only touched the Catholic teenager's elbow when he "became extremely upset" after a conversation about his confused sexuality.

But the MP was found guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Monday after around five hours of deliberations.

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

The Conservative party expelled the MP "with immediate effect" following the guilty verdict.

But Mr Blunt, who was at the London court to hear the verdict on Monday, said the case "relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people" and argued the result had "dreadful wider implications" for LGBT Muslims "around the world".

"I sat through some of the trial," he wrote in a blog post.

"The conduct of this case relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago.

"As a former Justice Minister I was prepared to testify about the truly extraordinary sequence of events that has resulted in Imran being put through this nightmare start to his Parliamentary career.  I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date.

"Any other outcome will be a stain on our reputation for justice, and an appalling own goal by Britain as we try to take a lead in reversing the Victorian era prejudice that still disfigures too much of the global statute book."

There's been a strong backlash since he made the comments, with Labour calling on the Prime Minister and the Tory chairman to "take action" against Mr Blunt.

A number of MPs also resigned from a parliamentary committee which Mr Blunt chairs after he was criticised for his comments, with calls for him to stand down.

Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, said he has resigned as vice-chair of The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT+ Rights following Mr Blunt's statement.

"This was the first APPG I joined as an MP and it meant a lot to me," Mr McDonald wrote on Twitter.

"Parliament needs a respected and robust LGBT group and Crispin can no longer provide that leadership. He should stand down."

Labour MP for the Rhondda, Chris Bryant said: "This is completely inappropriate. I have written to complain and to resign from the LGBT APPG which Crispin chairs."

Joanna Cherry also announced her intention to step down from the body, saying Mr Blunt's statement was the "last straw" for her membership of the group and that she intended to resign on Tuesday.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chairwoman and shadow equalities secretary, labelled Mr Blunt's comments "disgraceful".

She called on the Prime Minister and Tory chairman Oliver Dowden to "take action" against the Reigate MP and "distance their party from his comments".

During Khan's trial, the victim, now 29, told the court he ran to his parents and a police report was made at the time, but no further action was taken because the youngster did not want to make a formal complaint.

But he told jurors "it all came flooding back" when he learned Khan was standing in the December 2019 general election.

The Tory hopeful was literally parachuted into the constituency in a skydiving stunt after he was selected to replace Antony Calvert weeks before the election.

Days ahead of the poll, the victim said he contacted the Conservative Party press office, to tell them what Khan had done to him, but added: "I wasn't taken very seriously."

Khan, who 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", denied sexual assault.

Khan, then 34, said he was trying to be "kind" and "helpful", but the teenager became upset and "bolted" when the topic of pornography was raised.

Khan made no comment as he left court but a member of his legal team said he would be appealing.

Janes Solicitors, the firm representing Khan, said in a statement: "Our client Imran Ahmad Khan MP maintains his innocence and will be appealing as soon as possible."

Sir Peter Bottomley, the father of the House of Commons who also attended court on Monday, said the final jury verdict should be "respected".

The senior Tory MP said he chose to attend the trial "most days" as "no-one should be alone in court".

He told PA news agency: "It was not the verdict I anticipated.

"Unless overturned on appeal, the jury verdict following the summing up has to be respected."

A Tory spokesman, when asked whether the party agreed with Mr Blunt's view, reiterated that Khan had been expelled from Boris Johnson's party.

"Our view is pretty clear," he added.

Blunt apologises for criticism of guilty verdict in MP Khan’s sex assault case

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