Former politician Lord Nazir Ahmed found guilty of rape attempt in the 1970s

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Peer and former politician Lord Nazir Ahmed has been found guilty of attempting to rape a young girl when he was a teenager in the 1970s.

Ahmed, 64, who quit the House of Lords but retains the title Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, was found guilty on Wednesday of sexual offences against a boy and a girl dating back more than 40 years.

A woman told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court that Ahmed attempted to rape her in the early 1970s, when the defendant was about 16 or 17 years old but she was much younger.

He was also found guilty of a serious sexual assault against a boy under 11, also in the early 1970s.

The jury was played a recording of a telephone call between the two complainants, made by the woman after she went to the police in 2016.

A general view of Sheffield Crown Court, Sheffield (Dave Higgens/PA)
A general view of Sheffield Crown Court, Sheffield (Dave Higgens/PA)

Tom Little QC, prosecuting, told the jury that the call was prompted by the man contacting the woman by email saying: “I have evidence against that paedophile.”

Ahmed, who denied all the charges, was found guilty on Wednesday of two counts of attempted rape and one of buggery.

The former Labour member resigned from the House of Lords in November 2020 after reading the contents of a conduct committee report which found he sexually assaulted a vulnerable woman who sought his help.

The report made him the first peer to be recommended for expulsion but he resigned before this could be implemented.

Ahmed was charged along with his two older brothers, Mohammed Farouq, 71, and Mohammed Tariq, 65, but both these men were deemed unfit to stand trial.

Farouq and Tariq faced charges of indecent assault in relation to the same boy that Ahmed abused and, also on Wednesday, the jury found that they did the acts alleged.

The conviction of Ahmed follows a tortuous prosecution, which included the halting of a previous trial by a judge who bemoaned the antiquity of the allegations.

But Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said his decision to stop the original trial in March was due to failings in disclosing evidence which had “sabotaged” the proceedings rather than his misgiving over the length of time that had elapsed.

At a hearing earlier in the prosecution, Judge Richardson had noted that some of the then alleged incidents happened in the late 1960s when Harold Wilson was prime minister, Lyndon Johnson was the US president and the Vietnam War was raging.

In March the judge took the unusual step of ordering a permanent stay on proceedings, bringing the prosecution to a close.

But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) appealed against this decision and it was overturned by the Court of Appeal in June, paving the way for the new trial.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS special crime division, said: “We asked the jury to dispassionately consider the evidence against each of these men and decide if they could be sure that our prosecution had proved they committed these crimes.

“By these verdicts the jury has clearly decided that no matter the delay between the offences and the trial, and the defences raised, they could be sure that the accounts of the victims were credible and true.

“One of these defendants held a position of power, influence and responsibility for some time in the House of Lords but this case clearly illustrates that where there is sufficient evidence, even in challenging cases, the CPS will bring a prosecution, put evidence before a jury and see rightful convictions.”

Ms Ainslie added: “The case also gives an insight into the challenges police and prosecutors face in dealing with huge amounts of information arising from an investigation, and disclosing it properly to the defence to allow a fair trial.

“Disclosure failures should not happen.

“But the case also shows our determination to admit problems, overcome them and pursue the case, and the court’s ability to ensure the defendants receive a fair trial and their victims see justice.”

The judge, Mr Justice Lavender, bailed Ahmed to appear at the same court for sentencing on February 4.

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