Today the House of Lords expelled its first peer – after an excoriating report by the Lords conduct committee
Lord Nazir Ahmed, a life peer, who was ennobled by Tony Blair in 1998 and first Muslim peer in the UK, is being thrown out after the House of Lords Conduct Committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge, Lord Mance, upheld a serious complaint of sexual assault against a vunerable woman who sought his help.
The case is so bad that the report carries a health warning that it ” includes allegations of sexual misconduct and of racism which some readers may find upsetting or offensive.”
The decision to expel the peer followed a battle between him and the Lords Standards Commissioner, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff , after he appealed her findings against him and tried to discredit the woman who made the complaint. The appeal was heard by the conduct committee who have upheld her decision.
Labour Party suspension
The peer resigned once he knew the result and now says he is going to the European Court of Human Rights to clear his name. He had already resigned from the Labour Party in 2013 after the party suspended him when he said a ” Jewish conspiracy” was behind his conviction for a driving offence in Pakistan.
In 2017 he offered to help a woman who wanted to go to the Met Police to complain about a faith healer who she said was sexually and financially exploiting vulnerable people.
According to the report “Her complaint against Lord Ahmed was that when she asked him for help he initially made unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature with her and later held out the promise of using his influence to help her, when in fact his aim was to have sex with her.”
Instead of helping Tahura Zaman, the report says” “Lord Ahmed used the possibility of arranging a meeting with the Metropolitan Police to lure her to his house, where he had sex with her, possibly after drugging her. They then had a sexual relationship that lasted from September to November 2017, during which time he continued to say that he was going to arrange the meeting with the Metropolitan Police.
“During their sexual relationship she said that Lord Ahmed tried to pass her
to an associate, X, for X’s sexual gratification. She also told us that after Lord
Ahmed ended their sexual relationship, this associate deleted or made her delete all messages and other data to and from Lord Ahmed from her phone, which she believed was at Lord Ahmed’s instigation.”
Lord Ahmed denied all this and said it was a social arrangement and claimed she had initiated the sexual relationship at his house which he claimed he had politely rebuffed and tried to end.
The Commissioner found for the woman and concluded that Lord Ahmed was being dishonest and in denial over the incident. The only point she did not uphold was that she was drugged while she was a his house.
He appealed to the conduct committee which has backed the commissioner’s findings and recommended he be expelled.
Today Lord Mance in moving the motion said:
“We noted that the commissioner had found Lord Ahmed unco-operative and dishonest in the key areas and that he had shown no regret, remorse or understanding of the inappropriateness of his conduct or its effect on a vulnerable victim. We said in paragraph 45 of our report:
“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.”
This finding comes when the House of Lords has strengthened its code of conduct and made all peers go on courses to improve their behaviour following two other cases involving former Labour peers.
Lord Ahmed will keep his title even though he is barred from sitting in the Lords as it would require legislation to remove an individual peer’s title.
But Lord Mance added:” Lord Ahmed will retain none of the privileges of a retired Member. If this Motion is agreed today, the House of Lords Commission has agreed that with immediate effect Lord Ahmed will not be entitled to a retired Member’s pass and will not be able to access any of the facilities of the House.”
The motion was agreed unanimously. I think the time has come in cases like this to change the law so he can lose his title – otherwise he could still pose as a peer to people who do not know his circumstances.