Imran Khan: The downfall of the high-flying MP found guilty of sexual assault

Imran Khan Credit: PA

Imran Ahmad Khan was parachuted - literally skydiving - into his home town of Wakefield as a replacement Conservative candidate in 2019.

But soon after he landed, Mr Khan’s past began to catch up with him. Away from Wakefield, a man learned in horror that the person who had sexually assaulted him 11 years earlier was close to becoming an MP.

The man - who was 15-years-old at the time of the offence - experienced “an explosion of emotion” and called the Conservative Party to make them aware.

“I explained he’d sexually assaulted me as a child when I was 15,” the victim told Southwark Crown Court. Despite telling the party there was a police record of the incident from 2008, the victim told jurors the Tories didn’t take the allegation “very seriously”.

In the early hours of the 13th of December 2019, Imran Ahmad Khan was elected Wakefield’s first Conservative MP since 1932. He told the court it was the “proudest moment” of his life.

Days later, police opened an investigation after being told of the allegation of sexual assault. By May 2020, Imran Ahmad Khan received notice he was charged with sexually assaulting a child. It took more than a year until the charge was reported publicly, and for Mr Khan to have the whip suspended by his party.

During the case, Mr Khan’s lawyers tried to block reporting of his name altogether, and later of his sexuality and consumption of alcohol. They claimed the reporting would “expose Mr Khan to a risk to his safety both here and abroad.” The restrictions were eventually all lifted.

In January 2008, Imran Ahmad Khan was travelling south after celebrating new year’s in the Lake District. He and a friend were invited to stop off at a friend of a friend’s house en route to attend a family birthday party.

The family said they were told that Mr Khan was “some sort of prince”, and he was allocated the final spare bed in the family’s home, in a room with two boys. As the party wore on, so did the drinking.

The court heard Imran Khan was seen topping up people’s glasses. One man wearing a kilt told jurors Mr Khan “lunged” towards him, and asked whether he was a “true scotsman”.

After the party Imran Khan found himself in his allocated bedroom alone with the two boys. The prosecution said he began trying to force the 15-year-old to drink gin. 

"I kept saying, 'I don't like it, I don't like it',” the victim told police in an interview seen by the court. “He kept forcing us to drink and I kept feeling a bit weird: ‘something's not right here, he's making us drink’."

The court was told the boys went to bed and turned off the lights in a bid to make Mr Khan stop. Instead, the 34-year-old Khan approached the 15-year-old boy as he lay in the upper bunk.

The victim told police he remembered Imran’s “breathing was getting quite heavy”, before he began groping his legs and attempting to reach his groin. The boy said he “sprang out of bed and ran”.

His parents broke down in tears in court as they recalled how their son was left "inconsolable" and "shaking" after the incident. The next day, Imran Khan was told to leave the family home and the incident was reported to police.

The victim told jurors he “wanted it all to shut up and go away” so didn’t press charges. Imran Khan denied any sexual assault had taken place, and told the court the victim’s story was “sheer fantasy”.

Instead, he told jurors he’d had a “philosophical, moralistic, theological discussion” with the 15-year-old about sexuality.The boy was “anxious”, “stressed” and “troubled”, claimed Mr Khan.

Later, in the boy’s bedroom, Mr Khan said he told the boy that the sort of pornography he watched “may be a good indicator to where your attractions lay”. “There was something in the comment about the pornography that triggered a reaction and he bolted out,” Mr Khan told the jury.

In the prosecution’s closing speech, Sean Larkin QC said Mr Khan tried to “gaslight” the victim. “He repeatedly called him troubled,” said Mr Larkin. “What was the evidence the victim was troubled?”

The second victim: In June 2021 it was reported publicly Imran Ahmad Khan, who is gay, had been charged with an historic allegation of sexual assault. Shortly afterwards, police were approached by a man who claimed he too had been sexually assaulted by Imran Ahmad Khan, this time in Pakistan in 2010.

Mr Khan has not been charged with this offence and denied any wrongdoing. However the court were told that after a night of drinking on a work trip, the men returned to their hotel and Imran Khan offered the man a sleeping pill.

Hours later, the man told the jury he woke to find Mr Khan performing a sex act on him. He said he pushed Mr Khan off him and shouted at him to stop. The man told the court he reported the incident to the British High Commission in Islamabad and the Foreign Office in London, but no further action was taken.

Imran Khan told the jury the sex was consensual. He denied being flirtatious and tickling the man prior to the assault: “I’m not one for horseplay,” he told the court. He said the man had been drinking and taking drugs, and when in the hotel room removed his clothes in front of Mr Khan.

It was only the next morning that the man expressed regret for his actions and swiftly departed, claimed Mr Khan. “Poor Mr Khan,” said Sean Larkin QC when summing up his prosecution. “What are the chances that a fantasist would say ‘once in a bedroom he tried to get me intoxicated and sexually assaulted me’, that another fantasist would say ‘once in a bedroom he tried to get me intoxicated and sexually assaulted me’?”

Imran Khan’s defence asked the jury to give “considerable weight” to numerous “people of high standing prepared to put their name forward in support of him.”

They included Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, who described Imran Khan as “highly intelligent” with “forthright views”. And Valery Tsepkalo, a Belarusian politician turned opposition activist who said he was “shocked” to find out about the allegations of sexual assault.

After a two-week trial, the jury of ten took five hours to reach a guilty verdict. Depending on the sentence Imran receives, Wakefield could soon be heading for a by-election. There are questions too for the Conservative party about why allegations of sexual assault against a child weren’t taken more seriously before the election.

The Conservatives told ITV News they found “no record of a complaint being made about Mr Khan until the police investigation”. Following his guilty verdict, Imran Ahmad Khan was expelled from the party.

The Wakefield MP said he’d just received his parliamentary pass and was standing in Westminster Hall when he received a phone call telling him accusations of sexual assault might be made public.

Mr Khan told jurors he was “utterly bewildered” and suggested the victim was a ‘corbynista’. The victim admitted he was a Labour supporter, but told jurors there was no political motivation behind his decision to forward.

 “It doesn't matter if this man is running for Labour or the Green Party. It is right and wrong.” He said he was motivated to come forward because he understood that MPs have frequent access to children.

The victim broke down in tears at various points during his testimony and told jurors that recalling the incident had brought him “nothing but pain for the last two years”. At times he said he’d contemplated suicide.

“I want this person to be convicted of the wrong that he has done,” he told the jury. “So that it can’t happen to anyone else.” Imran Ahmad Khan’s lawyers said he would appeal the verdict.