The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt has again defended his former colleague Imran Ahmad Khan, claiming Ahmad Khan’s conviction for sexual abuse was “a serious miscarriage of justice”.
Ahmad Khan was found guilty last month of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. He subsequently stepped down as the MP for Wakefield.
Blunt, the MP for Reigate, told the BBC’s Politics South East programme on Sunday: “I remain confident [Ahmad Khan] will win his appeal and I will be distressed about our justice system if he doesn’t.”
Blunt previously issued a statement on his website decrying the verdict, saying he was “appalled and distraught” by it, and it was “an international scandal, with dreadful wider implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world”.
He claimed the case against Khan “relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago”.
Blunt subsequently withdrew his statement and apologised, saying: “I do not condone any form of abuse and I strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system.”
He also stepped down from the chairmanship of an all-party group advocating for LGBT+ rights around the world, in the wake of a backlash over his original comments.
However, Blunt returned to his criticism of the verdict in the interview on Sunday. “I saw what happened. I attended part of the trial. I know what decisions were made during the trial, which mean that, in my judgment, he did not get a fair trial,” he said.
“The justice process is not complete, because Imran has the opportunity to appeal the conviction, and I remain very confident that a justice system worthy of the name will restore his good name,” he added, though he conceded he had not watched the entire trial.
The shadow justice secretary, Steve Reed, responding to Blunt’s comments, said: “The Conservatives’ claims to be the party of law and order and on the side of victims can never be taken seriously ever again. Crispin Blunt should have the whip removed if they have any respect for victims of sexual abuse.”
Blunt, 61, has said he will not stand at the next general election.
His comments came as rumours circulated at Westminster about the identity of a Conservative MP who has been accused of sexual harassment, including by at least one other MP.
Boris Johnson’s party has been plagued by scandal in recent days. An unnamed Conservative MP was arrested on suspicion of rape and released on bail last Monday.
That news emerged shortly after the dates were announced for two byelections, in Ahmad Khan’s Wakefield seat and in Tiverton, Devon, where the former MP Neil Parish resigned after admitting watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber.
Parish’s behaviour was exposed after senior Conservative female MPs held a meeting with Tory whips to discuss what they regard as a culture of sexism in Westminster.
Questions were also raised after the Mail on Sunday published a widely criticised story suggesting a Tory MP had said Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, crossed and uncrossed her legs at prime minister’s questions to distract Johnson. Rayner called the claim a “perverted smear”, and the prime minister disowned the comments and apologised to her.