Three members of Rochdale gang face possible deportation to Pakistan after court ruling
Three members of a Rochdale grooming gang face possible deportation to Pakistan after court of appeal judges upheld a decision to strip them of their British citizenship.
Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men jailed in May 2012 for their part in a grooming ring which plied vulnerable girls with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” for sex.
The court heard that some of the victims, who were aged in their early teens, were raped and physically assaulted and some were forced to have sex with “several men in a day, several times a week”.
Following their conviction, Aziz, Khan and Rauf were informed by the Home Office in 2015 that they would be stripped of their British citizenship, after which the home secretary would consider deporting them to Pakistan.
They were told: “British citizenship is a privilege that confers particular entitlements and benefits, including the right to a British passport and the right to vote in general elections.
“It is not in the public interest that individuals who engage in serious and/or organised crime, which constitutes a flagrant abuse of British values, enjoy those entitlements and benefits.”
The men challenged the decision at the first tier tribunal (FTT), arguing that removing their citizenship would breach their right to a family life under the European convention on human rights, as they have children living in the UK.
The FTT ruled against the men, concluding that “depriving the appellant of his British citizenship would not in itself prevent him continuing his relationship with his family”.
The upper tribunal also rejected the men’s appeal, arguing that the serious nature of their crimes meant it was reasonable for the home secretary to view the removal of their citizenship as “conducive to the public good”.
The men then took their case to the court of appeal and represented themselves before three senior judges at a hearing in July. Adil Khan argued that he was innocent of any crime, something the judges dismissed.
In a ruling on Wednesday, Lord Justice Sales said: “Given the extremely serious nature of the offending by each appellant, there is no good ground for calling that conclusion into question. There was no error of law by the FTT.”
All three men, from Rochdale, were 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.
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.
Married father of five Rauf was jailed for six years and Khan for eight years.
Outlining their offending, Sales said: “The sentencing judge described how in some cases the girls were raped callously, viciously and violently; and in some cases they were driven round Rochdale and Oldham to be made to have sex with paying customers.
“All the men treated the girls as though they were worthless and beyond all respect. They were motivated by lust and greed.”
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, the home secretary has the power to strip an individual of their British citizenship – as long as it would not leave them stateless – if it is seen as “conducive to the public good” or they obtained their British citizenship fraudulently.
Depriving a person of citizenship for the public good can be done on the grounds of “involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours”.