The departure of once lordly Nazir Ahmed has predictably proven as dubious as the political career leading up to it in Britain’s House of Lords. He jumped moments before he was due to be pushed.
Ahmed wrote to a Pakistani news channel this week to announce he was ‘retiring’ from the House of Lords. But that came straight after a parliamentary conduct committee recommended that he be expelled over sexual misconduct. The conduct committee upheld a report by parliament’s commissioner of standards that found his conduct unworthy of the position of a member of the House of Lords.
India has long found Ahmed’s conduct unworthy in political ways well before the commissioner found him unworthy in sexual ways. Ahmed has spent his political career abusing India, not just being critical of it. To this end, he had roped in supporters of terrorism in Kashmir, and some straggling Khalistanis on every platform he could find — or set up.
The commissioner’s report makes unlordly reading about the kind of lord this chap was. Its inquiry was launched on a complaint by Tahira Zaman following an encounter with Ahmed that went a way she wasn’t expecting. She went seeking help against sexual exploitation and ended up complaining of sexual exploitation by the man whose help she had sought.
The commissioner’s report says Zaman went to Ahmed after facing financial and sexual exploitation at the hands of a supposed faith healer described in the report as ‘S’. She was introduced to Ahmed in the hope that he would help her complain to the police about ‘S’.
“Her complaint was that instead of helping her, 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,” the report says. “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.”
The commissioner’s report notes: “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.”
Zaman complained that after the dinner at a London restaurant on the evening of March 2, 2017, Ahmed (then Lord Ahmed) put his hand on her upper thigh which was “unexpected and unwelcome”. He then suggested that she should meet him at his house in London to discuss the offer of a meeting with the Metropolitan Police. Zaman told the Commissioner that Ahmed then “initiated their sexual activity that evening”. Ahmed told the commissioner in his defence that it was Zaman who initiated the sexual activity at his house.
Upon investigating this complaint, the commissioner determined that Ahmed sexually assaulted Zaman after they had dinner to discuss the complaint she wished to make to the police. “I find that by sexually assaulting Zaman, Lord Ahmed was therefore in breach of the Code by failing to act on his personal honour.”
He then exploited her emotionally and sexually by lying about his intentions to help her between August and November 2017, the commissioner found. 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.” By failing to progress Zaman’s case and lying about his intentions, “Lord Ahmed was acting without honesty or integrity.”
The erstwhile lord exploited Zaman emotionally and sexually “even though he knew she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression”. This, the Commissioner found, “exacerbates the seriousness of his breaches of the Code.”
Ahmed then failed to come clean through the course of the inquiry. “On important issues Lord Ahmed persistently gave deliberately inaccurate and misleading accounts to conceal his behaviour towards 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.”
Accordingly, she said, “my recommendation is that Lord Ahmed be expelled from the House of Lords.”
The conduct committee of parliament examined the commissioner’s report and also new evidence Ahmed offered to the commissioner in his defence. It found “no basis for any challenge to, and has no reservations whatever about the correctness of, the Commissioner’s wholesale rejection of the new evidence.” The Conduct Committee said it “accordingly dismisses the appeal of Lord Ahmed against the Commissioner’s findings.” It recommended his expulsion in line with the view of the commissioner.