Tory MP Crispin Blunt apologises after mounting revolting defence of child sex offender
The Tories have been urged to suspend MP Crispin Blunt after he called Imran Ahmad Khan’s conviction for child sexual assault a “dreadful miscarriage of justice”.
Imran Ahmad Khan, MP for Wakefield, was on Monday (11 April) found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.
He was expelled from the Conservative Party with immediate effect, and will be sentenced at a later date.
Amid widespread disgust and condemnation, Blunt, who was chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global LGBT+ Rights, issued a since-retracted statement defending his former Tory colleague.
Blunt called Khan’s conviction “nothing short of an international scandal, with dreadful implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world”.
He claimed that the “conduct of the case relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people”, and that as a former justice minister, he was prepared to “testify about the truly extraordinary sequence of events that has resulted in Imran being put through this nightmare start to his parliamentary career”.
He offered no explanation or evidence for his claims.
“I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date,” Crispin Blunt continued. “Any other outcome will be a stain on our reputation for justice, and an appalling own goal by Britain as we try to take a lead in reversing the Victorian era prejudice that still disfigures too much of the global statue book.”
Steve Reed, shadow justice secretary, called for Blunt to be suspended from the Tories immediately.
The Prime Minister should suspend Blunt from the Conservative Party for this utterly reprehensible statement https://t.co/3tpwVOPiWV
— Steve Reed (@SteveReedMP) April 11, 2022
Blunt later retracted his statement and apologised, saying: “I am sorry that my defence of [Khan] has been a cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences.”
He confirmed he had offered his resignation to the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights, following a series of exits from the group.
“It is a particularly difficult time for LGBT+ rights across the world and my statement risks detracting the APPG… from its important purpose,” he wrote.
Blunt added: “To be clear, I do not condone any form of abuse and I strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system.”
The SNP MP Stewart McDonald, a vice chair of the APPG, had earlier handed in his resignation, calling for Blunt to stand down as chair immediately.
“Parliament needs a respected and robust LGBT group and Crispin can no longer provide that leadership,” McDonald wrote.
His resignation was followed by those of fellow SNP members Joanna Cherry and Martin Docherty-Hughes, as well as Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Kate Osborne.
Bryant said: “Blunt’s statement denouncing the conviction of fellow Conservative MP Imran Khan is appalling. Blunt did not hear the prosecution, he did not listen to the victim. A jury who did has convicted Khan and this kind of attack on the judiciary by a lawmaker is wrong.”
Labour chair and shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds was among those who demanded that Boris Johnson take action, saying the prime minister must “distance” his party from Blunt’s comments.
The furore comes at a crucial time for the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights.
The cross-party group champions and examines the government’s work on LGBT+ rights internationally, but also includes domestic issues within its remit.
After Boris Johnson’s move to exclude trans people from a ban on conversion therapy, the APPG is being looked to to hold the government to account.
As ITV’s UK editor Paul Brand put it: “Crispin Blunt has blown up the LGBT APPG at the arguably the most fractious moment for LGBT rights in almost a decade.”
Crispin Blunt has blown up the LGBT APPG at the arguably the most fractious moment for LGBT rights in almost a decade.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) April 12, 2022
Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted after a court heard he forced alcohol on a 15-year-old boy at a house party, before taking him upstairs, asking him to watch pornography and assaulting him.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the attack left him “scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised”.
The now 29-year-old said that a police report was filed at the time of the assault, but that no action was taken because he did not want to make a formal complaint.
When the victim learned that Khan was standing in the 2019 general election, “it all came flooding back”, jurors heard.
The victim said he contacted the Conservative Party ahead of the election, but claimed he “wasn’t taken very seriously”. The police were later contacted.
Khan was found guilty by a jury after five hours of deliberations. If he is handed a prison sentence of 12 months or more he will immediately be removed as an MP, triggering a by-election in Wakefield – though many are calling for his immediate removal.
PinkNews sought comment from Crispin Blunt.
A Conservative spokesperson said: “A jury of Mr Khan’s peers has found him guilty of a criminal offence. We completely reject any allegations of impropriety against our independent judiciary, the jury or Mr Khan’s victim.”