A former Tory MP jailed for groping a 15-year-old boy has lost a Court of Appeal challenge against his conviction and sentence.
Imran Ahmad Khan, 49, was jailed for 18 months at Southwark Crown Court in May, after being found guilty of sexual assaulting the teenager after a party in 2008.
Two days after winning his seat in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in the December 2019 general election, Khan contacted one of the victim’s relatives expressing concerns about the 2008 incident, and the victim later went to police.
Khan was expelled from the Conservative Party and resigned, triggering a by-election in the constituency, following his conviction.
The former MP brought an appeal against his conviction and sentence, which was heard at the Court of Appeal in November.
His lawyers argued that his conviction was “unsafe” because the case against him was “weak” and was bolstered by “bad character evidence” in the form of a man who alleged he had been sexually assaulted as an adult by Khan in Pakistan in 2010.
They also argued his jail term was too long for the offence and should have been suspended.
But both appeals were dismissed by three senior judges in a ruling on Monday.
Dismissing the conviction appeal, Mr Justice Sweeney, sitting with Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Linden, said: “The (trial) judge was plainly entitled to conclude that the prosecution case in relation to (the victim’s) complaint was not weak. Indeed, in our view, the case was far from weak.”
He added: “Against that overall background, we have no doubt that the appellant’s trial was fair and that his conviction was safe.”
Mr Justice Sweeney said the judge also gave due consideration to suspending the sentence, especially in light of Khan’s frail mother’s care needs and the fact he was her sole carer before he was jailed, but concluded custody was necessary in all the circumstances.
He added: “In our view, on the particular facts of this case, he was entitled to reach that conclusion.”
Khan’s appeal hearing last month was attended by the Conservative MP for Reigate, Crispin Blunt, who previously claimed Khan’s conviction was “a serious miscarriage of justice”.
“The only regret you feel is towards yourself”
Passing sentence in May, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said: “The only regret you feel is towards yourself for having found yourself in the predicament you face as a result of your actions some 14 years ago.
“Although it may well be over the years you had let yourself believe you had got away with having committed this offence, I am sure you were aware from the outset there was a risk there would be a day of reckoning.”
The judge said Khan had displayed a “significant degree of brutality” in the lead-up to the assault, as he dragged his victim upstairs and threw him on to a bed.
The Crown Court also heard how he forced the then teenager to drink gin and tonic and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire, after a party in January 2008.
The victim, who cannot be identified, said he was left feeling “scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised” after Khan, then 34, touched his feet and legs, coming within “a hair’s breadth” of his privates, as he went to sleep in a top bunk bed.
The court heard the victim was “inconsolable” when he ran to his parents after the attack.
A police report was made at the time, but no further action was taken because the boy did not want to make a formal complaint.
However, he told jurors “it all came flooding back” when he learned Khan was standing in the general election.
He said he was not “taken very seriously” when he made the allegation to the Tory press office days before Khan won the Wakefield seat, and went to police after Khan helped the Conservatives win a large Commons majority.
Khan, who is gay and a Muslim, claimed he only touched the Catholic teenager’s elbow when he “became extremely upset” after a conversation about his confused sexuality.
The politician said he was trying to be “kind” and “helpful”, but the boy became upset and “bolted” when the topic of pornography was raised.
Khan was found guilty of a single count of sexual assault after about five hours of deliberations by a jury.
Gudrun Young KC, representing Khan, who has a degenerative bone disease and is registered disabled, told the court in May the former MP had been “completely teetotal and celibate” for a number of years, and has “become somewhat of a recluse”, living with and caring for his elderly mother.
Ms Young said that since his election to Parliament his life has been in “freefall”, adding: “At every stage of this process, the investigation, charge, trial, everything he has worked for and achieved in his life has been gradually stripped away from him, ending in this conviction.”
She said Khan had gone from “high public office” with a successful career behind him to being “utterly and completely disgraced with his life and career in ruins, shamed and humiliated at every turn”.
“To say his reputation is in tatters does not do the matter justice. It has been completely destroyed,” she said.
“Mr Khan’s fall from grace has been spectacular.
“He will always be known as a disgraced former MP and he will take that to his grave.”