KARACHI: Three men of a notorious grooming gang face deportation to Pakistan after an appeals court upheld a government decision to strip them of British citizenship, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal means that the three gang members — all Pakistani nationals — could no longer stay in Britain and possibly be deported to their home country. They had acquired British citizenship by naturalisation.
Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men of Pakistani and Afghan descent convicted of luring girls as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. They were based in Rochdale, in northern England.
The convicts lured young girls into sexual acts using drugs
The three men were jailed in May 2012 but were later released on licence. The ringleader, Shabir Ahmed, was sentenced to 22 years in jail and remains in custody.
The case centres on a decision by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2015 — when she was home secretary — to strip the men’s citizenship “for the public good”.
The men had challenged the government decision at two immigration tribunals, arguing that revocation of their citizenship would violate their right to a family life, as they have children living in the UK. Their appeals were dismissed.
The convicts then approached the Court of Appeal, senior judges of which ruled on Wednesday that the previous tribunals had made a “proper and lawful assessment” of the likelihood of deportation.
The trio was found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and trafficking for sexual exploitation following a trial at Liverpool crown court, the Guardian reported.
Aziz — who was one of the ringleaders of the grooming gang and referred to by some of the others as The Master — was jailed for nine years. Rauf, married and a father of five, was jailed for six years and Khan for eight years.
A person can be deprived of British citizenship for the public good on the grounds of “involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours”.
According to the BBC, a senior judge said the men were motivated by “lust and greed” which amounted to “serious organised crime” and that stripping them of citizenship was “conducive to the public good”.
After serving their sentences the three convicts will have a further legal right to appeal their deportation and the process could take months, the BBC reported.
It quoted a Home Office spokeswoman as saying: “This was an appalling case. We welcome the court’s finding and will now consider next steps.”
Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018