Lord Ahmed faces serious misconduct charges

Rotherham-based peer denies allegations, vows to challenge the findings


Hammad Sarfraz November 18, 2020
The Lords Conduct Committee concluded Lord Ahmed emotionally and sexually exploited a vulnerable woman. Photo courtesy: UK Parliament

KARACHI:

The Lords Conduct Committee of the upper house of parliament in the United Kingdom has concluded that one of its members has breached the Code of Conduct and subsequently made the case for the first ever expulsion.

“Lord Ahmed breached the Code of Conduct by failing to act on his personal honour,” said the report that was made public on Tuesday.

According to the contents of the report, Baron Ahmed, who was created a life peer in 1998, emotionally and sexually exploited Tahira Zaman, who approached him for assistance three years ago.

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Lord Ahmed denied the allegations put forth against him in the report and vowed to appeal against the decision.

“I am going to continue pursuing my appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to remedy this injustice,” said the Rotherham-based peer. “The complainant has previously attempted to damage my reputation by reporting serious allegations to the Metropolitan police, alleging rape, which was investigated and dismissed. She pursued the matter for further investigations under the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme. Those investigations were conducted and dismissed,” he added.

Shortly after the report was made public, Zaman told the BBC that she was "elated and relieved". Media outlets in the UK reported that the 43-year-old approached Lord Ahmed three years ago hoping that he would help her start a police investigation against a Muslim spiritual healer, who she believed, was exploiting women.

Reports added that, the two met at a restaurant in east London in February 2017 to discuss the case, where the accused touched the complainant inappropriately on her thigh. Zaman said she was shocked by his behaviour and broke off contact.

Later that year, the reports said, the two met again at Lord Ahmed’s residence in east London. Following the meeting, both had a consensual sexual relationship. However, Zaman said: “I was looking for help and he took advantage of me. He abused his power.”

On Wednesday, British media outlets reported that Lord Ahmed resigned after reading the contents of the report which calls for his expulsion from the House of Peers.

When asked about his abrupt resignation, Lord Ahmed said he needed to attend to his ailing wife, who according to him, is still recovering from a surgery for bowl cancer.

“The truth is my wife had bowl cancer removed in 2019, sadly the operation opened up and contaminated her stomach,” said Lord Ahmed, adding that he has been at home for nearly two years.

“I’ve not attended a single session in the House of Lords. My wife will need care until recovery,” the peer told the Express Tribune.

Commenting on the committee’s report and Lord Ahmed’s resignation, Henry Cowling, Media and Communications Officer at the House of Lords said: “The report will be put to the House tomorrow and stands on its own merit. We cannot speculate on why Lord Ahmed decided to retire.”

“It is true that he informed the House he wished to do so after he had received the final report from the Conduct Committee on his case and appeal. His retirement does not stop the report being published or being put to the House for approval,” Cowling said from London.

According to British parliamentary rules, the Independent Commissioner for Standards is responsible for considering any alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct. The report said the Commissioner concluded that “Lord Ahmed’s 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.”

According to Lord Ahmed, the complainant reported the matter to the Commissioner for Standards in 2018. “The Commissioner wrote me and said that the House of Lords Code of Conduct covers Members’ parliamentary activities. It does not extend to their behaviour that is unrelated to parliamentary proceedings,” the peer claimed.

“The circumstances put to me by the complainant did not, in my view, engage parliamentary activities,” he said.

Lord Ahmed appealed against both the finding of committee and his expulsion from the House. However, the conduct committee, chaired by former Supreme Court justice Lord Mance, rejected the appeal and recommended his expulsion from the House, where he has served for more than two decades.

The report will now have to be put for approval by the House on 19 November without a debate.

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