Rochdale grooming gang leader avoids deportation by renouncing Pakistani citizenship

·3-min read
Abdul Aziz (right), referred to as the Master of the Rochdale grooming gang, with fellow gang member Adil Khan on the left - PA
Abdul Aziz (right), referred to as the Master of the Rochdale grooming gang, with fellow gang member Adil Khan on the left - PA

A Rochdale grooming gang ringleader avoided deportation to Pakistan after he renounced his citizenship just days before a court ruled he could lose his right to live in the UK, an immigration tribunal heard.

Abdul Aziz, 51, referred to by the gang as The Master, was told by the Home Office that despite losing an appeal depriving him of UK citizenship, the first step before deportation to Pakistan, he would not in fact lose his citizenship and was allowed to remain in the UK.

Aziz, Adil Khan, 51 and Qari Abdul Rauf, 52, were among nine gang members jailed in 2012 for a catalogue of child sex offences in Rochdale.

All three were liable to be deprived of UK citizenship and deported as they also held Pakistani nationality, and Theresa May, the home secretary at the time, ruled it would be “conducive to the public good”.

Since release from jail, they have fought a long legal battle against deportation, mounting multiple legal challenges and appeals, spanning several years, on the grounds that deportation would interfere with their human rights.

As Rauf and Khan continued their appeal against deportation at an immigration tribunal, it emerged Aziz had already been told he will not be stripped of his UK citizenship and deported.

Aziz had renounced his Pakistani citizenship on July 13 2018, six years after he was jailed, but just days before the Court of Appeal ruled he could be deprived of his UK citizenship.

‘The law demands consistency’

Rauf and Khan renounced their Pakistani citizenship in September of the same year after the Court of Appeal ruling.

Lawyers for Rauf said the law demanded consistency of treatment and although Rauf could regain his Pakistani nationality simply by signing a form, he was refusing to do so because he did not want to be deported.

Eight of nine men convicted of a variety of offences connected with a child sexual exploitation ring in Rochdale in Greater Manchester - AFP
Eight of nine men convicted of a variety of offences connected with a child sexual exploitation ring in Rochdale in Greater Manchester - AFP

Aziz was jailed for nine years in 2012 for conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child by penetrative sex and trafficking for sexual exploitation a 15-year-old girl.

He took his victim to flats in Rochdale where she was plied with vodka and drugs and coerced into sex with gangs of men in return for payment to him.

Rauf’s lawyers said deportation would be a breach under articles of the European Convention on Human Rights arising out of their individual circumstances relating to their private and family life.

At an earlier hearing, Judge Charlotte Welsh granted an application for anonymity for the lawyers representing Rauf, that they could not be named in any report of the hearing.

Khan, then in his 40s, impregnated one girl, refusing to accept the child was his until a DNA test was done. He then met the other girl he trafficked to others for sex, using violence when she objected.

Rauf, a father-of-five, trafficked a 15-year-old girl for sex, driving her to secluded areas to have sex with her in his taxi and ferrying her to a flat in Rochdale where he and others had sex with her.

The hearing was adjourned with a decision on deportation expected later this year.

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