Monday September 20, 2021

Lord Nazir announces retirement from House of Lords

November 17, 2020

LONDON: Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham decided to resign from the House of Lords after a Conduct Committee report recommended he be expelled for allegedly exploiting a vulnerable woman.

The House of Lords Conduct Committee published a report into the conduct of Lord Ahmed finding him in breach of the Code of Conduct for “failing to act on his personal honour in relation to his behaviour towards Tahira Zaman, the complainant who alleged that Lord Ahmed developed inappropriate relation with her after she sought his help in early 2017”.

Lord Ahmed had announced his resignation from the House of Lords on Monday evening but the report, published on Tuesday, said that he should have been expelled from the House of Lords. The Lord Speaker on Monday announced in the UK Parliament that Lord Nazir Ahmed has retired at the start of business on November 16, 2020.

The House of Lords Conduct Committee concluded Lord Ahmed emotionally “exploited” British Pakistani Tahira Zaman, who came to him for help in 2017 in connection with a personal issue.

Soon after publication of the report, Lord Nazir announced he will challenge the findings of the 270- page report at the European Court of Human Rights.

Following an appeal by Lord Ahmed, the Committee upheld the findings of the independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards that Lord Ahmed “breached the Code of Conduct by failing to act on his personal honour in the discharge of his parliamentary activities by agreeing to use his position as a member of the House to help the complainant but then: assaulting the complainant on 2 March 2017; lying to the complainant about his intentions to help her with a complaint to the Metropolitan Police regarding exploitation by a faith healer; and exploiting the complainant despite knowing she was vulnerable”.

Lord Nazir Ahmed expressed his disappointment at the Report of the Conduct Committee. In a statement to Geo.tv, Lord Ahmed said: “I am extremely disappointed by the Report of the Conduct Committee which is based on a flawed and unfair investigation process. I have always said, and maintain, that the allegations contained in the Report are not true. Given this, I am now going to continue pursuing my appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to remedy this injustice.”

The Commissioner also found that Lord Ahmed failed to genuinely co-operate with her investigation as required by the Code of Conduct and instead attempted to discredit the complainant’s evidence through “denial and dishonesty” but a source close to Lord Ahmed said that he had cooperated with the inquiry fully.

The Committee noted that at no point in the process did Lord Ahmed show any remorse or take any responsibility for any aspect of his conduct towards the complainant. Sources close to Lord Ahmed, however, said that he maintained his innocence throughout and accordingly informed the inquiry committee.

The House of Lords said that the Conduct Committee, which is Chaired by former Supreme Court justice Lord Mance and includes four external members, dismissed Lord Ahmed’s appeal against both the finding of breaches of the Code of Conduct and the recommended sanction of expulsion from the House.

In February 2019, Tahira Zaman had made allegations that Lord Ahmed took advantage of “vulnerable women” but he has denied any wrongdoing.

Appearing before the Conduct Committee, Lord Ahmed had said that the complainant had previously attempted to damage his reputation by reporting her serious allegations to the police, alleging rape, which was investigated, but the police took no further action.

She then pursued the matter for further investigations under the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme but those investigations were conducted and dismissed.

He told the inquiry that Zaman took her complaint to the High Court for judicial review — in writing and then verbally — and it was dismissed.

The complainant reported this matter to the Commissioner for Standards in early 2018, and on 12 April, 2018, the Commissioner wrote to Lord Ahmed and said that the House of Lords Code of Conduct covers Members’ parliamentary activities but it does not extend to their behaviour that is unrelated to parliamentary proceedings.

The circumstances put to me by the complainant did not, in my view, engage parliamentary activities, Lord Ahmed told the Conduct Committee.

The complainant then reported this matter to many outlets of the media, Lord Ahmed told the Committee. Tahira Zaman’s allegations were aired by the BBC "Newsnight" programme. It should be noted that Richard Watson — the reporter from "Newsnight" — is an investigative reporter who covers terrorism.

“In my view, he pursued confirmation bias,” Lord Ahmed told the Conduct Committee.

Tahira Zaman said she was "elated and relieved" at the report's findings.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, who made history by becoming the first ever Muslim peer in Britain’s history, has been a consistent critic of the Indian government’s policies, particularly with reference to Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.