Tory MP Crispin Blunt urged to quit LGBT group after defending colleague found guilty of assaulting boy, 15

The Tory MP Crispin Blunt is facing calls to quit as chair of a Parliamentary Group on LGBT+ rights after he defended a colleague found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Mr Blunt, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global LGBT+ Rights, made a public intervention on Monday after Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan was found guilty of sexual assault.

Khan, who has been expelled from the Conservative Party, continues to deny wrongdoing and does not intend to stand down as an MP but is likely to face removal from office after he is sentenced.

In his statement, Mr Blunt said he was “appalled and distraught at the dreadful miscarriage of justice that has befallen my friend and colleague Imran Ahmad Khan.”

He wrote: “His conviction today is nothing short of an international scandal, with dreadful wider implications for millions of LGBT+ Muslims around the world.”

Mr Blunt, who attended Monday’s summing up but was not present for prosecution evidence, added: “I sat through some of the trial. The conduct of this case relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago.

“As a former Justice Minister I was prepared to testify about the truly extraordinary sequence of events that has resulted in Imran being put through this nightmare start to his Parliamentary career.

“I hope for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that has exemplified his life to date.

“Any other outcome will be a stain on our reputation for justice, and an appalling own goal by Britain as we try to take a lead in reversing the Victorian era prejudice that still disfigures too much of the global statute book.”

The Conservative Party rejected Mr Blunt’s intervention. A spokesperson said: “A jury of Mr Khan’s peers has found him guilty of a criminal offence. We completely reject any allegations of impropriety against our independent judiciary, the jury or Mr Khan’s victim.”

The statement also spurred a stream of resignations from other LGBT+ MPs who are members of the APPG.

The SNP’s Stewart McDonald wrote: “I have resigned as a vice-chair of the @APPGLGBT following Crispin Blunt’s statement.

“This was the first APPG I joined as an MP and it meant a lot to me. Parliament needs a respected and robust LGBT group and Crispin can no longer provide that leadership. He should stand down.”

SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes added: “Given this utterly inappropriate intervention by Crispin Blunt, I have informed the secretariat of the @APPGLGBT of my resignation as a Vice Chair & member of the APPG. It’s time for the Chair to go.”

Labour’s Chris Bryant said: “This is completely inappropriate. I have written to complain and to resign from the LGBT APPG which Crispin chairs.”

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Labour’s Kate Osborne added: “Tonight I resigned from my position on the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights. I can not sit on a committee or associate myself with a committee chair who holds such views.”

Joanna Cherry, who opposes transgender rights reforms supported by most members of the APPG added: “I’ve stayed a member of the APPG on Global LGBT Rights against my better judgment mainly because I was determined not to be bullied out as a gender critical lesbian but chair Crispin Blunt’s statement tonight is the last straw. I’ll be resigning tomorrow.”

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