PAKISTAN’s go to London lawyer for politically sensitive cases, Toby Cadman, is focusing on his latest target: MQM-London. His effort to secure charges against the party is the latest in a series of Pakistani-related issues he has worked on. He has previously defended former president Pervez Musharraf from treason charges, researched the Sharifs’ London properties and tried to prevent the execution of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-i-Islami leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami.
But for the moment his attention is on the MQM. Last month, after two days of meetings with the FIA in Pakistan, Mr Cadman presented Scotland Yard with what he described as “compelling evidence” about the MQM and money laundering. The British police have sent mixed signals about their investigation. On Nov 6 the police issued a statement saying that the UK’s National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit had been given further documents in September but that no additional lines of inquiry had been identified.
But last week the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, being questioned by Labour MP Naz Shah, said that the investigation was ongoing and would be properly resourced. “If crimes have been committed that we can prove and bring to justice we absolutely want to and will,” the Police Commissioner said.
Mr Cadman says he is seeking a meeting with the police to get clarity on how they are treating the investigations into not only money laundering but also other issues. “There are three MQM-related cases in the UK,” he said, “the murder of Imran Farooq, money laundering and hate speech.” And there could be movement on another issue. “One of the matters we are considering,” Mr Cadman told Dawn, “is whether there is a reasonable basis to make a submission to the Home Office that this organisation should be designated a terrorist organisation”.
Many Pakistanis believe that the British authorities’ handling of the MQM case has been subjected to political interference. Karachi businessman and MQM critic Sarfraz Merchant believes he has evidence to show that is true. He has said that in July 2016 he was in Hammersmith magistrate court when a British state prosecution lawyer said in open court that when the director of the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) had reached a view on the merits of the money laundering case, it was forwarded to the government for a decision, as it was a political case involving three countries.
“Both the police and the CPS should be independent institutions and should not take instruction form the executive irrespective of whether it’s considered a political case or not,” Mr Cadman said. “Seeking such instructions from the government on the exercise of an independent power to investigate and prosecute is unheard of.”
Mr Cadman is a co-founder of Guernica 37, a London-based chamber with a focus on defending victims of human rights abuses nationally and internationally. Asked whether, in his Pakistan-related work, he is most often hired by the Pakistani state, he said: “It would be inappropriate to discuss any instructions for work I receive whether it’s in relation to Pakistan or any other country.”
In 2013 Mr Cadman became part of the team defending Mr Musharraf when the former military leader was accused of treason. Mr Cadman co-submitted a report to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that talked of an “incredible, unsound vendetta” against the former military ruler. The report called for a full UN review by the UN High Commissioner and UN Special Rapporteurs to engage with the government of Pakistan over the treatment of the former president.
More recently, Mr Cadman has been working on behalf of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-i-Islami leaders. In 2016 Bangladesh’s Supreme Court upheld a death sentence for the party’s leader Motiur Rahman Nizami who prosecutors said was responsible for setting up the Al-Badr militia. Nizami was hanged at Dhaka central jail on May 11 last year.
In an article opposing the hanging, Mr Cadman wrote that the government of Sheikh Hasina had deprived Nizami and other JI leaders of their inherent rights. Describing the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICTB) as highly flawed, he complained about procedural irregularities, political manipulation of the trials and legal unfairness. Mr Cadman countered accusations that Nizami had been the chief of Al-Badr by arguing that no evidence to that effect had been produced. Mr Cadman said he was hired to defend the JI leaders by the party in Bangladesh.
In July, a Joint Investigation Team looking into the Sharif family’s London properties tasked Mr Cadman with requesting that the British Home Office’s Central Authority International Criminality Unit cooperate with the Pakistani investigation into the former prime minister’s case. Pakistan wanted the UK to verify hundreds of British documents relating to the case. Mr Cadman’s law firm had gathered the papers.
Asked about the Sharif case Mr Cadman said: “As the matter remains ongoing and is presently sub judice it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.”
Mr Cadman is by no means the only London lawyer working on legal cases for Pakistan. London-based barrister Khawar Qureshi, for example, has been given the task of securing £35 million of funds lying in a London bank. The money once belonged to the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad but is now claimed by Pakistan, India and some of the Nizam’s offspring.
But Mr Cadman does seem to have attracted a high proportion of the work on offer in London. Over the course of his career he has tried to pick up some of the languages of the countries in which he has worked. So what about Urdu? “Probably not!” he said. “I am already struggling to keep up my French and Bosnian whilst at the same time trying to master Arabic.”
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017