A new report from the Guardian came out yesterday wherein additional details about Imran Ahmad Khan have come out. This report tells us that Imran Ahmad Khan sold himself as a “local lad” in the 2019 general election. He made a big deal of being born at the local hospital, where his late father was a doctor and his mum a nurse, and educated at Silcoates, the town’s lesser private school. It was perhaps odd, then, that none of the local Tories seemed to have any idea who he was, with claims he had been “pushed” on to the constituency. He was a stranger even to Nadeem Ahmed, who had been the leader of the Conservative group of Wakefield council since 2014: “Wakefield is a close-knit place. I didn’t know anybody who knew him.” He didn’t even pretend to live locally, giving his address as a Lake District mansion where his mother lived. The Labour party liked to call him “the Windermere candidate”. This report also told us that he has a 3rd brother named Khalid (also a lawyer), we know about Karim Khan.
From Afghan war zone to West Yorkshire: the rise and fall of Imran Ahmad Khan
Questions raised about how little-known ‘local lad’ with a colourful past came to be selected as Wakefield’s Tory candidate
When Imran Ahmad Khan was selected as the last-minute Conservative candidate for Wakefield in the 2019 general election, he sold himself as a “local lad”. He made a big deal of being born at the local hospital, where his late father was a doctor and his mum a nurse, and educated at Silcoates, the town’s lesser private school.
It was perhaps odd, then, that none of the local Tories seemed to have any idea who he was, with claims he had been “pushed” on to the constituency. He was a stranger even to Nadeem Ahmed, who had been the leader of the Conservative group of Wakefield council since 2014: “Wakefield is a close-knit place. I didn’t know anybody who knew him.”
He didn’t even pretend to live locally, giving his address as a Lake District mansion where his mother lived. The Labour party liked to call him “the Windermere candidate”.
Ahmad Khan quickly established a reputation as an eccentric character with a penchant for telling wild tales about his previous life as a counter-terrorism consultant in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.
In his booming voice, his accent more Duke of York than West Yorkshire, he would tell war stories about getting blown up by an IED in Afghanistan – some people were shown the scars he said came from burning shrapnel – and negotiating with the Taliban.
He talked proudly of his brothers, Karim and Khalid, who are both high-flying lawyers – Karim is the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court in The Hague and has been in Ukraine this week investigating war crimes.
To some, he appeared sometimes to be playing a part, growing an extravagant Kitchener-style moustache and wearing red trousers with rainbow-striped shirts. “On Remembrance Sunday I remember him turning up to the Cenotaph hobbling with a cane, almost as if he himself had been wounded in battle,” said one local politician. “Then the next day you’d see him twirling the cane around and walking normally.”
Ahmad Khan was selected as the Tory candidate a month from polling day after the original choice had to step down because of offensive Facebook posts. Much of what the Guardian has learned about his past casts doubts on whether the Conservative party did proper background checks to establish if he was a fit and proper person to represent them in parliament.
The party says it has no record of anyone complaining to it before the election that Ahmad Khan was a paedophile – the victim in his sex offence trial claimed that he had done so. But it did not respond when asked by the Guardian if he had been vetted.
Tony Homewood, a Conservative councillor in Wakefield who acted as Ahmad Khan’s election agent in 2019 and previously worked as an “execution consultant” in the US to teach prison staff how to hang inmates, said on Twitter that Ahmad Khan had been “pushed” on the constituency. He claimed that Ahmad Khan had “applied for the seat originally and was in fact not selected for interview”.
He added: “What we might all ask is how candidates are selected and how can the situation come about where someone as wholly inappropriate as Ahmad Khan can get approved?” Homewood did not respond to a request for an interview.
During his two-and-a-half-year spell as Wakefield’s MP, Ahmad Khan has given differing versions of his CV. He no longer mentions his work for the private intelligence company SCL, parent company of controversial data consultants Cambridge Analytica.
But he has made no attempt to hide his job setting up the Syrian Media Centre, the UK propaganda arm of the Syrian government, where he was director of communications and strategy from 2004 to 2005. On his LinkedIn page, he says he “successfully organised the official launch party drawing on my own contacts to ensure that the guests included over 200 leaders drawn from the worlds of media, politics, diplomacy, industry, academia and art (eg. Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo, Sir David Frost).”
His now-deleted profile page for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on foreign affairs claimed that he “worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and M&C Saatchi from 2015 to 2018, where he advocated a novel approach to achieve greater political and popular support that might provide solutions to issues affecting the eradication campaign”.
But M&C Saatchi insists he worked for them as an external consultant for only one month in 2019. Ahmad Khan disputes this.
In a piece for the Times this week, one of his former parliamentary interns, Felix Mohaupt, claimed Ahmad Khan told him he had done a postgraduate degree at Georgetown, one of the most prestigious universities in the US.
Asked why there is no record of this, Ahmad Khan said he was due to attend Georgetown but couldn’t because his father died. His lawyers told the Guardian: “We are unable to speculate as to whether Felix misunderstood our client or what was stated, and our client has no recollection of the conversation with him, or indeed of Mr Mohaupt.”
One thing missing from his LinkedIn profile is a brief spell at Leeds University, where he started a degree in politics, Russian and parliamentary studies in 1992.
Julian Watson, who was on the same course, said of Ahmad Khan: “He was very full of himself and prone, I think, to exaggerating his achievements. One of the things he used to boast about was having been a special adviser to a president of a former Soviet country. Hardly likely given he was 18 at the time. He dropped out/was pushed out after a few weeks or months. The next time I was aware of him he had just been elected Wakefield MP. I was gobsmacked.”
The Guardian has been unable to verify a claim made on his deleted APPG profile that “in the early 1990s [when Ahmad Khan was in his late teens or early twenties] Imran served as Special Advisor to President Stanislav S. Shushkevich of Belarus”.
But some of Ahmad Khan’s wilder claims do appear to have at least some basis in reality.
Alex Ulster, the son of the Earl of Gloucester and a former British army officer, said he worked with Ahmad Khan on counter-extremism projects for the UK Foreign Office between 2008 and 2014, before Ahmad Khan left to work for the United Nations.
Having met in the 1990s when doing a degree in war studies at King’s College in London, in 2010 the pair set up a consultancy called Xain Research and Communication, which had contracts with the British government.
Ulster was a little vague about what exactly they did – “you’ll have to ask the Foreign Office”, he said. (The Foreign Office had not responded by the time of publication.)
But he said Ahmad Khan used to do what he called “atmospherics”, walking around villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, finding out what was going on and reporting back to the Foreign Office.
“He did a lot of stuff in Afghanistan. It wasn’t for very long, but we did a project where he was meeting people who were Taliban,” he said. “These were village-level people, not the leadership of the organisation or senior leaders … He was not negotiating on behalf of a government or anything of that level. We were doing what was called atmospherics.”
Asked to explain, he compared it to a reporter wandering around Wakefield asking about the byelection: “Vox populi. We would feed that back.”
He denied they were essentially evidence-gathering. “We would absolutely not call it intelligence, but it’s, you know, the flavour on the streets,” said Ulster. He laughed when asked if Ahmad Khan was a spy – a persistent rumour in Wakefield. “No, he is not a spy,” he said. “I think I would know if he was a spy.”
But he said Ahmad Khan was “quite ballsy – he went to places I wouldn’t … He was quite committed, you know, to the cause.” The cause being? “Anti-terrorism. And, you know, trying to stop the Pakistanis and Afghans from blowing each other up.”
Constituents in Wakefield were less enamoured of their MP, with some complaining that when they went to ask for help they had to sit under a huge portrait of Margaret Thatcher. After his conviction this week, many were outraged when he initially refused calls to stand down.
But by Thursday evening the pressure had become too much and he quit, saying he would focus entirely on clearing his name.
“As I intend for this to be my only statement, I would like to apologise to my family and community for the humiliation this has caused them,” he wrote.
“Questions surrounding sexuality in my community are not trivial, and learning from the press about my orientation, drinking, and past behaviour before I became an MP has not been easy.”
‘ABritish horror story” is the subtitle of Netflix’s two-part documentary on Jimmy Savile, released a couple of weeks ago. And what a horror story it is, recounting how Savile, one of Britain’s most notorious sex offenders, used his BBC stardom and NHS fundraising to abuse children as young as eight over the course of four decades.
As appalling as the crimes themselves is the number of adults who paid little heed to the rumours of paedophilia that swirled around Savile, and the institutions, from the BBC to the NHS to local councils, that failed to act. At Stoke Mandeville hospital, nurses said they would tell children to pretend they were asleep as Savile roamed the wards looking for victims. Savile even made a habit of alluding to his crimes in public.
This is the story of every child sexual abuse scandal that has afflicted this country and there are so many that the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has been running for seven years and counting. It is never just a tale of the sick people who abuse children, but of those around them who enable them, and the institutions that turn a blind eye. From the church, to football clubs, to residential schools, to the care system, to the heart of Westminster, sex offenders have been able to harm children with impunity because other people choose not to look too hard, or to defend them in the face of damning evidence.
This is hardly a relic of history. Today, we have safeguarding laws and policies designed to protect children that simply didn’t exist a few decades ago. Yet none of it is failsafe: they rely on adults in authority being willing to enforce them.
The latest reminder of this came just last week, when the Conservative MP Crispin Blunt made a public statement defending his fellow parliamentarian Imran Ahmad Khan after he was convicted of child sexual assault.
A jury found that Khan had plied a 15-year-old boy with gin, took him upstairs to watch pornography and groped him in a bunk bed, leaving him “inconsolable” and “shaking”. Another person alleged that Khan assaulted them as a young man. Khan has now resigned as an MP.
No matter to Blunt, who released a statement saying that he was “distraught at the dreadful miscarriage of justice”, calling Khan’s conviction an “international scandal” that relied on “lazy tropes about LGBT+ people”, with implications for “millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world”. (Blunt claimed to have sat in on some of the trial, but reporters say he was not there to hear the victim or his family give evidence.) He told his Conservative association that the crime of which Khan had been convicted was “minor on any scale”. Blunt has now retracted his statement, offered a mealy-mouthed apology and resigned as chair from the all-party parliamentary group on global LGBT rights.
Blunt’s behaviour is corrosive to preventing child sexual abuse. One of the many reasons it is so hard for children to disclose their abuse is that set against the denials of the powerful men who abuse them – whether their power derives from family structures, a position of authority or celebrity status – they think they will never be believed.
One journalist reveals in the documentary that a woman abused by Savile as a 13-year-old asked him: “Who’d take our word against the word of someone so famous and establishment he’s even close friends with the royals?” How right she was: the story didn’t run and after the BBC pulled an investigation into Savile a few weeks after his death, he was feted for months. What message does Blunt’s public statement send to the young man Khan has been convicted of assaulting and to other children being abused across the country?
By implying that Khan’s conviction is unsafe because it was powered by “lazy tropes”, Blunt is echoing the cloak of untouchability that the men who abuse children so often try to construct around themselves. It is of course true that false claims of paedophilia have been – and still are – deployed as homophobic slurs against gay men. And that convictions of Muslim men of Asian origin of grooming and sexually abusing young girls in towns such as Rotherham and Rochdale, which show only that men of all colours and faiths are capable of raping children, have wrongly been used to imply that Muslim or Asian men are more likely to abuse children.
But it is also true that some child sexual abuse offenders trade off these forms of bigotry as a cover for their crimes. White or black, gay or straight, rich or poor: abusers come in all shapes and sizes. The only thing they have in common is that they are almost always male. And they often excel at dismissing any allegations that surface against them – Savile referred to “weirdo letters”. Sometimes, they hide behind institutions that lend them a veneer of morality – church or charity. Sometimes, they say that people are out to get them because of their skin colour or their sexuality. Either way, the implicit warning is: to mess with us is to mess with the greater good.
Blunt was condemned by some of the other MPs on the parliamentary group, who resigned in protest at his statement. Where, though, was the statement from the prime minister, condemning Blunt’s words and making clear that it is never, ever acceptable for someone in a position of authority to minimise child sexual abuse? Where was the sanction from the Conservative party? Where is the investigation into why it has no record of the call Khan’s victim made to alert them that he had a decade earlier reported his sexual assault to the police?
I hate the notion that Savile “groomed a nation”, a phrase coined by the Met commander who led the Savile investigation. It lets off the hook too many adults who should have protected those children. That an MP can today engage in paedophile apologia with only the mildest consequences shows how very far Britain still is from learning the lessons of Jimmy Savile.
Links and Related Essay’s
#ahmadiyya #ahmadiyyafactcheckblog #messiahhascome #ahmadiyyat #trueislam #ahmadianswers #ahmadiyyamuslimcommunity #ahmadiyya_creatives #ahmadiyyatthetrueislam #ahmadiyyatzindabad #ahmadiyyatrueislam #ahmadiyyamuslim #mirzaghulamahmad #qadiani #qadianism