Crispin Blunt reiterated his defence of Imran Ahmad Khan, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. (Photo: Anthony Devlin - PA Images via Getty Images)
A former minister has doubled down on his defence of disgraced sex offender Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan, claiming he did not get a “fair trial”.
Khan, the former MP for Wakefield, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy earlier this month, a move that triggered his resignation from the seat and an upcoming by-election.
Former justice minister Crispin Blunt caused controversy when he defended Khan immediately following his conviction, saying he was the victim of a “dreadful miscarriage of justice”.
Following an outcry Blunt then apologised and withdrew his statement, saying he did not “condone any form of abuse and I strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system”.
However, despite then offering his resignation as chair of an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on LGBT issues, Blunt has now backtracked and defended his original comments.
In an interview with BBC One’s Politics South East programme on Sunday, Blunt said: “I didn’t know Imran – I got to know him in the first few weeks of 2019 and 2020 and thoroughly enjoyed his company and could well see why he’d be a terrific parliamentarian with an enormous amount to contribute.”
Blunt admitted he did not attend the whole trial, but said: “I know what decisions were made within the trial, which meant that, in my judgment, he did not get a fair trial or anything remotely like that.”
Pressed on whether he still believes that to be the case he said: “Yes, I do.”
Asked if he thought he knew more than the jury, he said: “Yes inevitably, because quite a lot of the trial was conducted without the jury being present.”
He added that it remains his judgment that he had seen “a serious miscarriage of justice”.
“Of course, the justice process is not complete, because … Imran has the opportunity to appeal the conviction,” he continued.
“And I remain very confident that a justice system worthy of the name will restore his good name.
“The victims … who have been victims of sexual assault will obviously have felt immensely strongly about the nature of my statement. But it is perhaps [in- the nature of some of my politics … to seek to make the case … for people whom others won’t.”
Earlier this month, Blunt also revealed that he would stand down as the MP for Reigate at the next election after 25 years in parliament.
Southwark Crown Court heard how Khan forced his 15-year-old victim to drink gin and tonic, dragged him upstairs in the house they were staying at, pushed him on to a bed and asked him to watch pornography before the attack at a house in Staffordshire in January 2008.
Khan finally quit as an MP at the beginning of this month, triggering a by-election in Wakefield which he took from Labour in the 2019 general election.
The contest will be held on June 23, as will a separate by-election in Tiverton and Honiton following Neil Parish’s decision to quit over revelations he watched porn on his phone in the House of Commons chamber.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.