The conviction by jury of MP Imran Ahmad Khan for sexually assaulting a teenage boy is “nothing short of an international scandal”, according to a former justice minister.
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said Khan, who was expelled from the Tory Party after Monday’s verdict, was the victim of a “dreadful miscarriage of justice”.
A jury at Southwark Crown Court took about five hours to decide the Wakefield MP was guilty of sexually assaulting a boy, who was 15 at the time of the offence.
The court heard how Khan, a gay Muslim, forced the then-teenager to drink gin and tonic, dragged him upstairs, pushed him on to a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire in January 2008.
But Mr Blunt, who was at Southwark court 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”.
Anneliese Dodds, Labor Party chairwoman and shadow equalities secretary, labeled 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”.
Members of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on LGBT+, including Labor MP Chris Bryant and the SNP’s Stewart McDonald, said they were quitting the cross-party body which Mr Blunt chairs.
Mr Bryant described the remarks as “completely inappropriate”.
Urging Mr Blunt to resign from the position, Mr McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, tweeted: “Parliament needs a respected and robust LGBT group and Crispin can no longer provide that leadership.
“He should stand down.”
In a statement published on his website, Mr Blunt, who came out as gay in 2010, said: “I am utterly appalled and distraught at the dreadful miscarriage of justice that has befallen my friend and colleague Imran Ahmad Khan, MP for Wakefield since December 2019.
“His conviction today is nothing short of an international scandal, with dreadful wider implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world.
“I sat through some of the trial. 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.”
Mr Blunt concluded by saying he hoped “for the return” of Khan, 48, to public service, stating that “any other outcome will be a stain on our reputation for justice”.
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.
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.”
Khan’s legal team said he plans to appeal the verdict.