The House of Lords Conduct Committee submitted the report on Monday recommending the Lord to be expelled from the House with immediate effect …. Reports Kaliph Anaz
Lord Nazir Ahmed lost his seat at Britain’s House of Lords after a panel recommended for his expulsion over sexual misconduct with a vulnerable Kashmiri woman.
Tahira Zaman, a single mother of two, filed a complaint against the Lord with Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Commissioner for Standards. BBC’s Newsnight team aired an investigative documentary on the controversial lord after several women complaint against him of sexual exploitation.
Lord Nazir made history when he became the first Muslim, Kashmiri, and Pakistani to enter the House of Lords as a Labour peer in 1998. Prior to that he was a councillor at Rotherham. He was a confidante of then prime minister Tony Blair. He later turned against him over Iraq War.
According to Ms Zaman, there are at least five other women want to take action against the Lord but are afraid of doing so because of community wrath and family honour.
Ms Zaman alleged that the Lord sexually exploited her on various occasions at his second home in London. Another victim accused the Lord of asking her to spend a night with him in London in return of helping her husband in a business tussle.
The House of Lords Conduct Committee submitted the report on Monday recommending the Lord to be expelled from the House with immediate effect. Lord Nazir Ahmed on a damage control mission later contacted a Pakistani TV station to announce his “Retirement.”
The Committee accused the Pakistani-origin Lord of bringing shame to the august House.
“His use of his parliamentary status to offer illusory help to a vulnerable Ms Zaman undermines the reputation of the House of Lords as a whole, as it undermines trust in the honesty and trustworthiness of its members,” the Committee said in the report.
The Conduct Committee, which is Chaired by 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 recommend sanction of expulsion from the House.
The report will now have to be put to the House for approval by the House on 19 November. In line with new Standing Orders for reports of this nature the report will not be debated.
The Conduct Committee findings were explosive and undermines the credibility of the most vocal critic of India in Europe. Lord Nazir Ahmed become the third member of Britain’s Upper House to quit before expulsion in the recent history. Lord Andrew Stone, former chief of Marks & Spencer, Lord Anthony Lester, were forced to resign after sexual allegations against them.
The investigation led by the Commissioner of Standards reveals that the Lord broke the Code of Conduct of House of Lords.
“I find that by sexually assaulting Ms Zaman on 2 March 2017, Lord Ahmed was therefore in breach of the Code by failing to act on his personal honour,” the Commissioner said in the report. “I find that by failing to progress Ms Zaman’s case and lying about his intentions Lord Ahmed was acting without honesty or integrity. As such he was therefore failing to act on his personal honour and was in breach of the Code.”
“I find that Lord Ahmed exploited Ms Zaman emotionally and sexually even though he knew she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression,” the Commissioner added.
“This, the Commissioner found, “exacerbates the seriousness of his breaches of the Code”.
“[On] important issues Lord Ahmed persistently gave deliberately inaccurate and misleading accounts to conceal his behaviour towards Ms Zaman … I consider that in conducting himself in this manner he has failed genuinely to co-operate with my investigation. He has failed to act on his personal honour, as evidenced by his dishonesty and lack of integrity.”
Lord Nazir tried to use Racist and India cards to deflect the allegations against him. But the Committee rejected all the claims and recommends for his suspension. Prominent journalists from the British media, representing BBC, Sunday Times, The Times and Asian Lite deposed in front of the Committee.
“The Conduct Committee accordingly dismisses the appeal of Lord Ahmed against the Commissioner’s findings that he breached the Code of Conduct by failing to act on his personal honour in the course of his parliamentary activities,” the panel said. “We now turn to Lord Ahmed’s appeal against the Commissioner’s recommended sanction of expulsion from the House. This is based on her findings of breach and the aggravating circumstances she identifies including that Lord Ahmed knew that Ms Zaman was vulnerable, that he did not cooperate with the investigation, and that he has shown no remorse.”
The Commissioner concludes that “His use of his parliamentary status to offer illusory help to a vulnerable Ms Zaman undermines the reputation of the House of Lords as a whole, as it undermines trust in the honesty and trustworthiness of its members.”
The Committee is firm on its decision to expel the Lord.
“We have nevertheless come ultimately to the conclusion that it would not be appropriate for this case to lead simply to a period of lengthy suspension followed by re-admission to the role, responsibilities and privileges of membership of the House,” the panel said. “The abuse of the privileged position of membership for a member’s own gain or gratification, at the expense of the vulnerable or less privileged, involves a fundamental breach of trust and merits the gravest sanction. Even though it is possible to think of even more serious breaches, the case in all its circumstances which we have set out crosses the threshold calling for immediate and definitive expulsion.”
Before the House of Lords Conduct Committee report, the Lord launched a damage control mission. He announced his retirement without any specific reasons.
He told Geo News that he has decided to retire from the House of Lords after 23 years of service. The Pakistani news channel said that Lord Nazir wrote to the clerk of the House of Lords a month ago, expressing his wish to retire.
It also reported that Parliament confirmed to Lord Nazir that his retirement allocation had been approved under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 “as of 14 November 2020”.
The Lord Speaker on Monday announced in the UK Parliament that Lord Nazir has retired at the start of business on November 16, 2020.
The Lord was involved in many other controversies too. He was convicted and jailed in 2009 for a reckless driving accident. He had sent text messages while driving, which hit a driver of a stationary car stranded on the M1 highway.
In 2013, Lord Nazir Ahmed blamed his conviction in the driving accident on a “Jewish conspiracy”. The comment led to the Labour Party suspending him; he resigned from the party later that year.