Judge brands sex grooming gang lawyers 'shameful'

Shabir Ahmed Image copyright GMP
Image caption Shabir Ahmed was the gangleader of the men who groomed and abused the girls

A senior judge has criticised lawyers representing a gang of child sex groomers who are seeking to avoid deportation.

Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey accused them of "frankly shameful" behaviour during a delayed immigration tribunal.

The four men, led by Shabir Ahmed, 63, were convicted in 2012 of preying on girls as young as 13 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The law firms involved declined to comment while the case was ongoing.

'Marked disrespect'

Mr Justice McCloskey, president of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, said the men's barristers and solicitors had failed to submit the necessary papers to the court and had repeatedly asked for adjournments.

He said: "The Upper Tribunal has been treated with sustained and marked disrespect. The conduct of these appeals has been cavalier and unprofessional. The rule of law has been weakened in consequence."

The judge, who is expected to deliver his decision on the men's appeal against deportation this month, also criticised government lawyers representing the Home Secretary after they produced "only a skeleton argument" at the "11th hour".

He has urged government legal officials to mount an investigation into such cases.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said: "The perpetrators of these crimes are trying to avoid languishing in a Pakistani jail, which is where they should be. The law is far too easy to manipulate in this area."

Sex offences

The Rochdale grooming gang plied teenagers with drink and drugs before they were "passed around" for sex, the trial was told.

Ahmed was given a 19-year sentence at Liverpool Crown Court in May 2012 for a string of child sex offences, including rape. He was also jailed for 22 years, to run concurrently, in July 2012 for raping another child 30 times over a decade.

Three other men convicted of child sex offences in the same case, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Abdul Rauf, are also appealing against deportation.

Their solicitors, Nottingham-based firm Burton and Burton, were approached for comment by the BBC.

A spokesperson for the Government Legal Department said it had apologised to the judge where it had failed to "comply with a direction".

Rajiv Sharma, the barrister who represented Ahmed, said he had been instructed at very short notice and was no longer handling the case.

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