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Crispin Blunt apologises for defending sex offender MP Imran Ahmad Khan

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has apologised for a statement defending fellow MP Imran Ahmad Khan, who was convicted of sexual assault.

Wakefield MP Khan was found guilty on Monday of assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

Mr Blunt had called the verdict a “dreadful miscarriage of justice” in a statement on his website.

But he has deleted the message after Tory bosses said it was “wholly unacceptable” and has also apologised.

The Reigate MP said: “I am sorry that my defence of him has been a cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences.”

He has also resigned as chair of a cross-party committee of MPs that campaigns for LGBT+ rights around the world, after several members of it quit in protest at his statement.

The BBC has contacted him for a comment, but he is not expected to say anything further at this stage.

‘Disgraceful’

Khan was thrown out of the Conservative Party after Southwark Crown Court delivered its verdict on Monday but he has said he will appeal against his conviction.

Mr Blunt, a friend of Khan who attended some of his trial, said in his now-deleted statement that he was “appalled and distraught” by the verdict, calling it “an international scandal, with dreadful wider implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world”.

He claimed that the case against Khan had “relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago”.

“I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date,” he added.

Imran Ahmad KhanIMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA
Image caption,

Imran Ahmad Khan intends to appeal against his conviction

He did not explain in any detail why he believed Khan’s conviction had been a miscarriage of justice.

His statement was rejected by the Conservative Party as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

Labour called Mr Blunt’s criticism of the verdict “disgraceful” and said he should be suspended from the Conservative Party.

In his apology, Mr Blunt said he did not condone any form of abuse and believed in the “independence and integrity” of the justice system.

During his trial, Khan denied groping a teenager at a party in Staffordshire in January 2008.

‘Not taken seriously’

Southwark Crown Court heard he forced the boy to drink gin, dragged him upstairs, and asked him to watch pornography before assaulting him.

Khan is set to be sentenced at a later date.

Before Mr Blunt’s apology, several members of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for global LGBT+ rights, which Mr Blunt chairs, had either resigned or said they would do so.

One of the MPs, Labour’s Chris Bryant described Mr Blunt’s criticism of the verdict “appalling”, adding: “This kind of attack on the judiciary by a lawmaker is wrong.”

Labour’s Kate Osborne, and three SNP MPs, Stewart McDonald, Joanna Cherry, and Martin Docherty-Hughes, also resigned from the group.

During the trial, the victim, who is now 29, said he was “not taken very seriously” when he made an allegation to the Conservative Party press office in December 2019, days before Khan was elected as Wakefield’s MP. The victim went to the police days after the election.

Conservative sources told the BBC the party had found no record of a complaint being made about Khan in the run up to polling day.

Khan tried and failed to ban media reporting of the case, with his lawyers arguing that his life could be at risk, as the consumption of alcohol and homosexuality are strictly prohibited within his faith.

But a risk assessment by West Yorkshire police counter-terrorism security advisers concluded that there was “no objective threat to defendant’s life that would arise from being named as the defendant in these allegations”.

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