Tory Crispin Blunt Says 'Sorry' For Defending MP Convicted Of Child Sex Assault

Blunt caused outrage after he branded Imran Khan's conviction “nothing short of an international scandal”.
Blunt claimed there had been a “dreadful miscarriage of justice” when Khan was convicted of assaulting the 15-year-old boy.
Blunt claimed there had been a “dreadful miscarriage of justice” when Khan was convicted of assaulting the 15-year-old boy.
Anthony Devlin - PA Images via Getty Images

Tory MP Crispin Blunt has said “sorry” for defending a colleague who had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

He has also offered his resignation as chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Global LGBT+ Rights.

Blunt caused outrage after he criticised the conviction of Tory MP Imran Khan as “nothing short of an international scandal”.

Khan, who was elected in 2019, has since been expelled from the Conservative party and has had the whip withdrawn.

But Blunt said he was certain Khan was innocent and there had been a “dreadful miscarriage of justice” incited by “lazy tropes about LGBT+ people” based in “Victorian era prejudice”.

His now-deleted statement caused such a backlash that it triggered four resignations from fellow MPs on the APPG.

Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “This is completely inappropriate. I have written to complain and to resign from the LGBT APPG which Crispin chairs.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: “Crispin Blunt’s statement tonight is the last straw. I’ll be resigning tomorrow.”

In a second statement on Tuesday morning, Blunt said: “On reflection I have decided to retract my statement defending Imran Ahmad Khan.

“I am sorry that my defence of him has been a cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences. It was not my intention to do this.

“To be clear I do not condone any form of abuse and I strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system.

“It is a particularly difficult time for LGBT+ rights across the world and my statement risks distracting the APPG for Global LGBT+ Rights from its important purpose.

“I have today offered the officers my resignation so a new Chair can be found to continue the work of the group with full force.”

The government has also distanced itself from Blunt’s comments. Armed Forces minister James Heappey said Blunt did “not speak for the government”.

He told Sky News: “All I know is that in a court of law yesterday Mr Khan was found guilty and I think every one of us who believes in the judicial system and the rule of law has to respect that judgment, and I think it’s for Crispin to account for his words but it’s not something the government associates itself with.”

Southwark crown court heard how Khan, a gay Muslim who is now aged 48, forced the then 15-year-old boy to drink gin and tonic at a house in Staffordshire in January 2008, before dragging him upstairs, pushing him on to a bed and asking him to watch pornography.

The victim made a complaint to police days after Khan was elected to represent Wakefield in West Yorkshire in the 2019 general election.

The victim, now 29, told a jury he was left feeling “scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised” after Khan touched his feet and legs, coming within “a hair’s breadth” of his privates, as he went to sleep in a top bunkbed.

He ran to his parents and a police report was made at the time, but no further action was taken because the youngster did not want to make a formal complaint.

But he told jurors “it all came flooding back” when he learned Khan was standing in the December 2019 general election.

Khan’s legal team has vowed to appeal against the conviction, a move that could delay a potential by-election in the seat.

Khan, who was 34 at the time of the offence, will be thrown out of the House of Commons if he is handed a prison sentence of more than a year, or otherwise could be subject to a petition to oust him in the recall process.

The judge, Mr Justice Baker, said he will sentence Khan at a date to be fixed.

Asked if the Khan should now resign, Heappey told Sky News: “He has been convicted, that’s happened in a court of law so it’s a judgment that of course we respect. He has had the whip removed and has been expelled from the Conservative Party.

“The way that parliament works is that you are elected as an individual, so his seat in the House of Commons is his until he personally chooses to vacate it.

“There are mechanisms now through recall petitions that have been in place since I think 2015 from memory, so if he chooses not to, there are now mechanisms through which he can be removed from his seat and subjected to a by-election.

“I understand he has plans to appeal, but quite frankly everybody in government respects that a court of law has found him guilty and that must be the judgment until he appeals successfully.”

And pressed on whether the government was concerned about a possible by-election in a Red Wall seat such as Wakefield, Heappey added: “I just don’t think that politics is the most important issue here.”


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