Tory MP Crispin Blunt has apologised for defending his colleague Imran Ahmad Khan, who was yesterday convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Khan, the MP for Wakefield since 2019, was immediately expelled from the party after being found guilty of the 2008 assault. Blunt then “made an extraordinary intervention”, releasing a “highly unusual and hyberbolic statement” on his website, describing the conviction as “nothing short of an international scandal”, said The Spectator’s Steerpike.
‘Dreadful miscarriage of justice’
Blunt, the MP for Reigate in Surrey and – until today – chair of the parliamentary group on LGBTQ+ rights, said he was “utterly appalled and distraught at the dreadful miscarriage of justice” that had befallen his “friend and colleague”.
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In the now-deleted post, he said the conviction would have “dreadful wider implications for millions of LGBT+ muslims around the world” and that the case had relied on “lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago”.
LGBTQ+ rights members resign
“MPs immediately condemned Mr Blunt’s statement,” said The Telegraph. Five MPs – Labour’s Chris Bryant and Kate Osborne, the SNP’s Stewart McDonald, Martin Docherty-Hughes and Joanna Cherry – announced that they would be resigning from the LGBTQ+ rights group, said the BBC.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chairwoman and shadow equalities secretary, called the comments “disgraceful” and urged the prime minister to “take action” against Blunt.
The government “distanced itself” from the remarks, said Sky News. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the broadcaster that the comments were “not something the government associates itself with”, adding: “Every one of us who believes in the judicial system and the rule of law has to respect that judgment.”
Blunt has since apologised and retracted his statement, saying it was not his intention to cause “significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences”.
Resigning as chair of the LGBTQ+ rights group, he 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 Khan case
ITV’s Harry Horton, who sat through Khan’s trial, tweeted that Blunt had only attended the defence and summary. “He was not present to see any of the prosecution witnesses. The victim and his parents broke down in tears on several occasions when giving evidence about the assault and the impact it’s had,” he said.
The court heard how Khan had tried to force the boy to drink gin, groped his legs and attempted to reach his groin before later trying to “gaslight” the victim, reported ITV. The incident was reported to the police the next day but the victim told jurors he “wanted it all to shut up and go away” so didn’t press charges at the time.
Khan, who will be sentenced at a later date, plans to appeal the verdict.
From Wellington to Reigate
Born in 1960, Blunt attended Wellington College, studied politics at the University of Durham and later gained an MBA from Cranfield University School of Management. He was an Army officer in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars for 11 years, resigning his commission to stand for parliament in 1990. It wasn’t until 1997 that he was elected as MP for Reigate.
In 2010, when the Conservatives returned to government in a coalition with the Lib Dems, Blunt announced that he had separated from his wife and was “coming to terms with his sexuality”, reported The Guardian at the time.
Under David Cameron, he became a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, served as prisons minister and chaired the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee from 2015 to 2017. He later co-chaired the parliamentary groups on drug policy reform, humanism and London’s green belt. His website also describes him as an “avid cricketer”.
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