A Conservative MP was found guilty on Monday of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008, prompting Labor to call for his immediate resignation, which would trigger a by-election in one of the ruling parties known as the “Red Wall.” – Seats in Northern England.
Imran Ahmad Khan, MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire, was immediately expelled from the Conservative Party after being convicted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London. The 48-year-old will be sentenced at a later date. Khan’s legal team said in a statement that her client will appeal the conviction.
Labor urged Khan to resign “immediately” so that by-elections could be held and “the people of Wakefield get the representation they deserve”. Khan defeated incumbent Labor leader Mary Creagh in the last general election, one of several Tory victories in the opposition party’s traditional working-class heartland.
Khan, previously suspended by his party pending the completion of his trial, could remain as MP until the court case is completed.
However, should he be sentenced to more than 12 months in prison, he would automatically lose his seat in the House of Commons. He could still be removed if he received a lighter sentence if more than 10 percent of eligible voters in his constituency sign a motion to remove him
Khan was convicted under Section 3 of the Sexual Offenses Act 2003. The punishment for crimes covered by the law can range from a community order to seven years in prison, depending on the individual case and the age of the victim.
The attack came more than a decade before Khan was elected to parliament in January 2008, when he was 34. The trial revealed he had attempted to force the then 15-year-old boy to drink alcohol before sexually assaulting him in a Staffordshire home, the trial heard. The boy informed his parents about the sexual assault.
The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement following Khan’s sentencing that a complaint had been made to Staffordshire Police at the time, but the victim, whose name cannot be released, decided he did not want to proceed. However, he decided to pursue the complaint after seeing that Khan had been elected MP in 2019 as he was concerned the politician was unfit for public office.
The MP was found guilty after a week-long trial. “It took a lot of courage for the victim to come forward in 2008 and 2019,” said Rosemary Ainslie, chief of the CPS Special Crime Division.
The conviction was questioned by former Conservative Justice Secretary Crispin Blunt, who wrote on his website that it was “nothing short of an international scandal with horrifying widespread implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world.”
Blunt, MP for Reigate, claimed the charge was “based on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we left behind decades ago”.
Blunt’s defense of Khan drew criticism from Labour. Shadow Equality Secretary Anneliese Dodds called it “disgraceful” and urged Boris Johnson to distance the Tory party from his comments.
Khan was the first Tory MP to win in Wakefield since 1931. A strong Brexit supporter, he took over the seat from Creagh, a pro-Remainer, by a majority of 3,358.
Any constituency by-election is expected to be fiercely contested and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer is keen to show his party can reclaim its former heartlands from the Tories.
Senior Tories believe a by-election in the city would be difficult to win in the coming months as the party lags behind Labor in the polls. One strategist said: “Given the circumstances, it would be very difficult for us”.
https://www.ft.com/content/30b1f4da-b7d3-4582-a3f3-215cd1eb31dc Labor says Tory MP convicted of sexually assaulting 15-year-old boy should resign