Wakefield By-Election Triggered As MP Quits After Sexual Assault Conviction

Boris Johnson faces a fight to hold the marginal seat as Imran Ahmad Khan steps down.
Imran Ahmad Khan arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Imran Ahmad Khan arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images

The MP for Wakefield has said he is to resign after he was thrown out of the Conservative Party following a conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

The move is likely to trigger a by-election where Labour will be hopeful of taking back the marginal seat from the Tories.

On Thursday, Imran Ahmad Khan said it is “intolerable” for voters in the West Yorkshire constituency to have muted representation while he appeals the guilty verdict.

He said the move would allow him to “focus entirely on clearing my name”.

It’s unclear when a by-election will take place as parliamentary authorities are unlikely to make a decision during the easter recess.

Labour had held the seat since the 1930s until Khan’s victory in the 2019 general election, when Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to seize a tranche of former Labour strongholds.

But the resignation sets up a tricky battle for the Tories to retain the seat, as the PM fights to remain leader after being fined by police for breaching his own coronavirus laws.

Khan won Wakefield by 3,358 over Labour former frontbencher Mary Creagh but the Conservatives will be nervous about maintaining that lead.

Khan, 48, was found guilty of sexually assaulting the 15-year-old at Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

Jurors heard he forced the teenager to drink gin and tonic before dragging him upstairs and carrying out the attack at a house in Staffordshire in January 2008.

In a statement posted to Twitter, he said: “While legal proceedings are ongoing, I do not believe that it would ordinarily be appropriate to resign.

“However, owing to long delays in the legal process, my constituents have already been without visible parliamentary representation for a year. Even in the best case scenario, anticipated legal proceedings could last many more months.

“I have therefore regrettably come to the conclusion that it is intolerable for constituents to go years without an MP who can amplify their voices in parliament.

“Representing them has been the honour of my life, and they deserve better than this.

“Consequently I am resigning as MP for Wakefield and withdrawing from political life.”

He added: “I shall shortly write to the parliamentary authorities to confirm this.

“I am now able to focus entirely on clearing my name. As I intend for this to be my only statement, I would like to apologise to my family and community for the humiliation this has caused them.

“Questions surrounding sexuality in my community are not trivial, and learning from the press about my orientation, drinking, and past behaviour before I became an MP has not been easy.”


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