Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lord Nazir Ahmed freed from Jail
not responsible for the death of other driver

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Labour Peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, the first Muslim Peer, was released on Thursday, the 12th of March, 2009 by the Court of Appeal. The lady Justice Hallett in her judgement at the Court of Appeal said Lord Nazir Ahmed was neither legally or morally responsible for the death of Slovakian Martyn Gombar.

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, 51, was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 12 months at the Sheffield Crown Court on 25 February 2009 for sending and receiving text messages while driving on the M1. On Christmas Day 2007, his Jaguar ploughed into a stationary car on the M1 motorway, five miles from his home in Rotherham, south Yorkshire. The driver of the stationary car, 28-year-old Slovakian Martyn Gombar, who had been drinking, was killed in the collision.

Lord Nazir Ahmed’s solicitors spoke of their respect for the court’s decision but launched an immediate appeal against the sentence. Lord Nazir Ahmed Support Campaign team launched the campaign. The right to appeal against the sentence was granted. The Court of Appeal, on Thursday, the 12th of March, 2009, quashed Lord Nazir Ahmed’s prison sentence imposed in the Crown court and he is now back at his office at the House of Lords, working hard once again. The Lady Justice Hallett not only quashed the sentence but the six-point penalty was also seen as over and that was reduced.

Verdict of the Court of Appeal: Lord Ahmed
not responsible for the death of other driver

I am going to run into the details the Ladyship said. I want to summarize what the Lady Justice Hallett said at the Court of Appeal. This is directed to Lord Ahmed: After the accident Lord Ahmed acted, she said, with considerable integrity, accepted the wrong in sending text messages and you had readily handed your mobile in certain knowledge in what you are extremely cooperative throughout; something about which the police were at pains to point out on your behalf. After the crash you were badly injured and having placed your passengers in safety you then risked your own life by standing in front of the other vehicle, (which had blocked the motorway), in an attempt to ensure that no other road suffered the same fate. She added that this gentleman acted with extreme courage.

The Court acknowledged the remarkable support that you had from various agencies and people of all walks of life. The Lady Justice Hallett said I have assessed the letters of reference in being in excess of 6,000.

The ladyship goes into say that he (Lord Nazir Ahmed) is neither legally or morally responsible for the death. Lord Ahmed was not responsible for the death of the other driver.
Lady Justice Hallett was the chairperson of the Court of Appeal.

So, Lord Nazir Ahmed, the first Muslim Peer, won the appeal and was freed from Jail on Thursday, the 12th of March, 2009, after serving 16 days, and four days early of his sentence term as according to Court’s decision he was due to be released on 20 March.

Praising the admirable services of Lord Nazir Ahmed, Justice Minister Shahid Malik, MP, said on Thursday that he looks forward to work with Lord Ahmed and with all those people who were benefitted from the campaign and good work done by Lord Ahmed.

Shahid Malik also said, “Lord Ahmed has done marvellous job for the rights of Kashmiris, Palestinians, Bosnians and other communities who fully deserve a campaign as has been launched by Lord Ahmed. Undoubtedly, on the basis of his relentless efforts, he deserved to be called champion of human rights.”

Justice Minister also added, “We need more community leaders like Lord Ahmed to accomplish the task initiated by the first Muslim Peer.”

Thanks Giving Evening
Lord Hameed

In the Thanks Giving evening, organised by the Lord Nazir Ahmed Support Campaign Team at the GI Conference Centre, Leyton on Wednesday, 18th of March, Lord Hameed, cross-bench Peer of the House of Lords, said, “I can appreciate the emotion of all of us from this room and many others outside this room at large that the news of this judgement by Justice Hallet has certainly in my mind and in yours demonstrated the Majesty of British justice. And we have every reason to believe there are still in a very mad world very many sane people thankfully in this country. I don’t know if you have seen Lord Nazir Ahmed in action in the House of Lords which I had the privilege of observing and it is a joy to watch his courage; he speaks the truth; he is not afraid and he brings lots of very good things for the entire community of people not only here but outside.”

Addressing Lord Ahmed, Lord Hameed said, “So Lord Nazir, on behalf of everyone in this room, may I say: May you prosper and may you have long, as I am a Doctor, I must bring health into this, a long healthy life. Because you are needed, you are needed by all of us.”

Lord Kenneth Wiggins Maginnis

Lord Kenneth Wiggins Maginnis, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, the Good Friday Agreement of Northern Ireland, who had been for many years in the House of Commons and then moved into the Upper House of Parliament, and who did not only provide a reference for Lord Ahmed but also attended the Court of Appeal in person, said about Lord Ahmed, “A man of action, a man who has wonderful friendship that’s my experience. When I heard the verdict of the court I was astonished, I was angered and I felt that the law in my country has betrayed something that I believe in and what has impressed me hugely tonight, ladies and gentleman, I not being patronising myself but the forgiveness that I heard expressed here tonight by those of you who spoke the willingness to accept that the court has put right the great wrong they did to Lord Nazir Ahmed encourages me greatly. It’s tremendous to see the press here, can I say, I just wish the western press would take a leaf out of your book. (Applause)”

Lord Maginnis also said, the carelessness with which the action on the motorway was linked together “was grossly unfair and unjust.”

“Can I conclude by saying that I am privileged and proud to be here tonight calling my friend, my brother somebody who has so many friends and brothers; Nazir’s friends are my friends. (Applause),” said Lord Maginnis.

Muhammad Sarwar, MP

Lord Ken had mentioned about the wonderful job Farzana, Lord Ahmed’s secretary did. Referring to that Mohammad Sarwar, MP. said, “His Lordship has mentioned Farzana you are a wonderful person and you are for the campaign, well done Farzana. I think I will not do justice if I don’t mention our journalists, print media, and electronic media for their commitment, for their passion, for their support for Lord Ahmed. We are proud of you; you have done a fantastic job like the issue of Lord Ahmed. I think all of you deserve our appreciation. I saw the support you have shown, the love and the affection you have shown for Lord Ahmed when Lord Ahmed was not among us. I can really say we are proud of you in Britain because you are in difficult time and good time. “

Answering to the point raised by one of the Journalists, Muhammad Sarwar, MP also said, “After consultation with the hierarchy, parliamentarians and the Labour Party. Insha Allah, his (Lord Ahmed’s) membership will be restored within days rather than in weeks.”

Barrister Abid Husain

Barrister Abid Husain, the head of the Lord Ahmed Support Campaign Team, said, “Lord Ahmed joined Labour Party in 1975. He gave 33 years of committed service. I have to tell you this, Lord Ahmed in my view, in my campaign team view, in the community’s view does not need the Labour Party; Labour Party needs him. I have told him to hold his horses; to think, to contemplate. I am quite familiar with the Labour Party Rules; it is a discretionary rule; they should have waited till the appeal happened. We will join Ken Wiggins in the Cross-bencher and there is no harm in that. Lord Ken has demonstrated that you can work outside the party and this should be for the Labour Party over 6,000 applications and with letters of support we stopped counting as the petitions goes in if they want Lord Ahmed back they would have he will not go to them.”

Councillor Mushtaque Lasherie

Councillor Mushtaque Lasherie said, “Lord Ahmed is a symbol of unity everybody has said. I think he is a symbol of courage; he is a symbol of passion, symbol of hard work and symbol of truthfulness as said already. I think last few days, as everybody has said, we have seen a vacuum. He is not only a symbol of unity for Pakistani; he is a symbol of unity of the Muslim community living not only in England but all over the world. You saw him going from here grabbing a teacher who was sentenced in Sudan. My colleague from the Third World Solidarity, Tony and Sandra, both were determined that this sentence was wrong and it has been proved by Lady Justice Hallett that it was wrong. We hope you will carry on your work as you have done last many years, at least ten years, in the House of Lords and we will stand with you to carry on getting justice and peace in the world particularly for the people of Palestine and the people of Kashmir.”

Muhammad Ali, CEO, Islam Channel

Muhammad Ali, CEO of Islam Channel, said, “You have to look after your community. We may be underachieving, we may be poor people; we may be this or that but we still your community; still we are the ones who you will find in the dark days and this is my message to everyone. May Allah Subhanahu wa Taala make Lord Nazir accepted over there (pointing to the Allah the Almighty) which is more important; the same way he is accepted between us tonight Insha Allah.”

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham started thanking all, particularly Barrister Abid Husain and all his friends from Asaf to Farzana to all the people who came from Birmingham, slough, from London, East London as well as west London; from all parts of the United Kingdom. “Thank you all. I am the luckiest man in the United Kingdom. I really mean it. I am the luckiest man because the love and affection you have shown, the ordinary people, women, our elderly women,” Lord Ahmed said and added, “Honestly speaking, it was a tabloid media trial and thank God, the Pakistani, the Muslim, the wider British community actually competed with that and actually got all the support. I am not the first victim. Choudhury Mohammed Sarwar, lion heart man sitting beside me, twelve years ago, he was the first victim.”

Lord Ahmed said he was tried at least four times. Explaining Lord Ahmed said, “On the day of accident, some of the headlines actually said six killed Lord car crash or 12 whatever. Because what they did, they counted all the accidents of December 25th and put it together with it. And the second time when the file actually being considered I did not hear from my solicitors or the police that my file was going to CPS, it was the journalist who called me and said that your file is being sent to DPP, what do you have to say to that. You are involved in a death crash. And when I was charged or CPS decided to charge me; normally the police will invite you and normally they will say to you that you are being charged, you have anything to say; on my occasion, I was informed by a TIMES newspaper reporter who called me and said you are being charged for dangerous driving and he did not say death driving but he linked it the death that was caused; what you have to say to that. I said I don’t know about it.”

Lord Ahmed also mentioned that the police officer who interviewed him said: ‘there was no case to answer.’ “The Magistrate that has dealt with it and the three Courts – the District Judge, the High Court Judge and the Court of Appeal – all the judges said that I do not have the legal or moral responsibility for the death or for the accident. Because Mr. Martyn Gombar was drunk; he had a faulty car tires and he had an accident long before I arrived there and two other cars are gone in. This is something that the media chose not to write,” Lord Ahmed explained.

Lord Ahmed also said, “The other man, Gombar’s passenger, believed to be Slovakian, was the only witness; he was taken by the police and the police kept him overnight. And because they did not have any interpreter; they released him and the second day or third day when they tried to bring him back, they found that he has disappeared and that man was actually needed by the Interpol for smuggling people. Everybody knows this. But no newspaper has decided to print that. Why?”

But one thing was clear, according to Lord Ahmed: “The Judge in the original case found that the texting was not connected to the accident. He stated that the texting had in no way contributed to what happened next.”

Lord Ahmed made it a point, “What happened was terrible. What I did in terms of text was bad. I have remorse. I didn’t say I was not guilty. I pleaded guilty and whatever happened I was prepared to take the responsibility but the point I am trying to make is that we did not need Sky TV with its cameras and its vans and the BBC and the CNN and the ITV and the every channel and the whole of the court room was full. They were full with the media.”

“Whatever happened I don’t want to say anything about judiciary because it is the matter for others. But one thing for sure the reason why Lady Justice Hallett gave this verdict of quashing the sentence was because she knew; I mean I was a Magistrate for eight years and I can tell you on all the judgements that I sat as a Magistrate never once they were quashed by the Court of Appeal. On this case when you have a High Court Judge the Court of Appeal actually quashes it that actually said everything,” said Lord Ahmed.

6,500 people have written letters. Lord Ahmed said, “Thank you to millions of Muslims around the world who have prayed for me. I say thank you to all the media; thank you for all the discussions that took place on the TV channels and thank you for your support. I tell you there were three Muslim parliamentarians that wrote a letter of support – Muhammad Sarwar was the first one, Lord Hameed was the other one and Baroness Akhswar, the Iranian lady of the House of Lords from the Cross-bencher was the third one and she wrote a very beautiful letter. These are Muslim parliamentarians I am talking about.”

Referring to Lord Maginnis, Lord Ahmed said, “I tell you something this lion from Northern Ireland, not only wrote letters without asking, Farzana can tell you, we didn’t asking him any letter or support he actually turned up in the court and support my lawyers. Former Lord Chancellor, Law Lords, MPs, Ministers, they all, I am very grateful to them. I am grateful for those the huge amounts of duas, prayers that I received. All I can say thank you.”

Speaking about his experience inside prison, Lord Ahmed said, “I met another Maulana. He wrote to me and says remember if you are in the Palace because of Allah the Almighty and if you are in a prison it is because of Him also. And there is a reason for it. When Babar Ahmed wrote to me from his prison cell four pages: ‘there are people like me for four five and six years in the prison cells and people have forgotten; and we are working for this extradition. I tell you with my brother Muhammad Sarwar and with my brother Ken Maginnis we will do everything.”

Rehabilitation centre for Muslim prisoners

Lord Ahmed said that he can tell lot of stories of his experience inside prison. Referring to Muslim prisoners, Lord Ahmed said, “When I was in prison I started to talk to people; that means white, that means black, that means Muslims, Asians and Turkish. I talk to them. In fact, within a week, we have this beautiful living gathering in our rooms, in our cells. I wanted to know why they were in prison? What motivates them? How can we help them to come out? I know there are Christian organisations and I thank them who help Christian Inmates to rehabilitate. Unfortunately, like Sarwar Saheb said 11% or nearly 12% of the prison population today are Muslims when we are 3% in general public. We do not have any rehabilitation scheme. I asked Syed Lakhtey Hasan when he visited me, please come and start this rehabilitation of Muslim prisoners. The government encourages them to work in voluntary sector. We had 1400 mosques; let these mosque becomes rehabilitation centres for Muslim Prisoners.”

“I ask these young people: ‘would you be prepared to wash the toilets’ and they said, ‘we have no problem to do that; we do it here in the prison. We have no problem in cleaning the wadu facilities; but we also want to learn Qur’an’. If you can embrace me, as Nazir Ahmed, as one of you, why you cannot embrace those people who are in prison. We need to do it for our country’s sake; we need to reduce prison numbers first, for our community’s sake. My maiden speech was Muslim prisoners,” said Lord Ahmed.

About prison services, Lord Ahmed said, “I have been asking for Halal foods in prison. I got some Halal food as well. I was asking for prayer facilities, actually I used those prayer facilities that I asked for. But now I think I need to do more.”

On the text messages, Lord Ahmed said, “I was wrong. In busy life, we all use mobile phones, we all use text messages and that’s why AAA has written to me today to support their campaign on making people aware of the dangers of using it. I agreed straight away. I ask Farzana to write the letter; I ask Farzana to write the letter for Babar Ahmed and it is on our desk.”

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