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Lord Nazir Ahmed

Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed (born 24 April 1957) is a member of the British House of Lords. He was appointed on the recommendation of Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998. Along with Lord Alli, Baroness Warsi and Baroness Uddin, Lord Ahmed is one of the four current Muslim peers in the United Kingdom. Many of his political activities relate to the Muslim community both in the UK and abroad and he has often attracted controversy. He was suspended for a time from the Labour Party in 2012 after he was misquoted as placing a bounty on U.S. President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. In 2013, Lord Ahmed was suspended again, this time for antisemitism; stemming from a report in The Times that he blamed a Jewish conspiracy for a prison sentence he received following a fatal motorway crash. The newspaper revealed that he appeared on Pakistani television and stated that he was imprisoned in 2009 because of pressure on the courts from Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels". He resigned from the Labour Party on 13 May.

Early life

Ahmed was born in Pakistan administered Kashmir on 24 April 1957 to Haji Sain Mohammed and Rashim Bibi.[3] His parents moved the family to the UK when he was 12 and he has lived in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, since his childhood.[4] He attended Spurley Hey Comprehensive School, then Thomas Rotherham Sixth Form College. He studied for a degree in Public Administration at Sheffield Polytechnic and joined the Labour Party when he was 18 years old.[5][6]


In 1990 Ahmed began his political career as a local Labour Party councillor, becoming the chair of the South Yorkshire Labour Party in 1993 and holding both positions until 2000. He founded the British Muslim Councillors' Forum and was a Justice of the Peace between 1992 and 2000.[1] He was both the first Asian councillor of Rotherham and the town's youngest magistrate.[7]In 1998 he was appointed to the House of Lords as Baron Ahmed, of Rotherham in the County of South Yorkshire. Although there have been many claims that he was the first Muslim life peer[5] (including by Ahmed himself)[8] or the first male Muslim peer,[1] he was in fact the third Muslim life peer; the other two, Baroness Uddin and Lord Alli, were raised to the Peerage on 18 July[9] whereas Lord Ahmed was so raised on 3 August.[10] There have been earlier Muslim hereditary peers, the first being the 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley.

He led the first delegation on behalf of the British Government on the Muslim pilgrimage of the Hajj.[11] At home, he speaks on wider equality issues, and has spoken several times on issues of race, religion and gender; he has advocated legislation against religious discrimination[12] and forced marriages.[13]He tried to calm tensions following the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001.[5] However, on 23 February 2005, he hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for the controversial Swedish writer Israel Shamir, during which the latter claimed, among other things: “The Jews like an Empire.... This love of Empire explains the easiness Jews change their allegiance.... Simple minds call it ‘treacherous behaviour’, but it is actually love of Empire per se.” Shamir also claimed, "Jews... own, control and edit a big share of mass media", a statement that was to be echoed by Lord Ahmed in 2012.[14] Although this invitation raised some controversy, Ahmed firmly refused to discuss the matter.[15]

In August 2006 he was a signatory to an open letter to Tony Blair, the prime minister, criticising the UK's foreign policy.[16]On 19 June 2007 Ahmed criticised the honouring of Salman Rushdie with a knighthood because of what he saw as Rushdie's offensiveness to Islam.[17] He was reported to have said, "It's hypocrisy by Tony Blair, who two weeks ago was talking about building bridges to mainstream Muslims, and then he's honouring a man who has insulted the British public and been divisive in community relations."[18] "This man not only provoked violence around the world because of his writings, but there were many people who were killed around the world. Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but honouring the man who has blood on his hands, sort of, because of what he did, I think is going a bit too far." He also said on BBC Radio 4's PM programme that he had been appalled by the award to a man he accused of having 'blood on his hands'.[17][19]

In September 2007, Ahmed flew to Islamabad with Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a bid to end Sharif's exile from the country by military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who had ousted him in a coup d'├ętat. He negotiated with police to allow Sharif to enter the airport terminal and pass through customs, but Sharif was arrested later, and deported.[20]After the reform of the House of Lords, Ahmed took over from Lord Sudeley to act as Host for the Forum for Stable Currencies.[21]In November 2007 Ahmed was involved in a diplomatic effort to secure the release of Gillian Gibbons from custody in Sudan. The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, allowed her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Ahmed, from Britain's ruling Labour Party, and Baroness Warsi, an opposition Conservative, visited Khartoum and had a meeting with the President of Sudan. Miss Gibbons, who had been given a fifteen-day prison sentence, was released after eight days following a Presidential pardon and allowed to return to the UK.[22]

In June 2008, the political editor of Newsnight, Michael Crick, reported that Ahmed had been rumoured to be preparing to defect to the Conservative Party, but that he had denied this.[23]On 13 May 2013, two days before he was scheduled to appear before the Labour National Executive Committee in relation to antisemitic remarks he allegedly made in an interview on television in Pakistan, Ahmed resigned from the Labour party stating that he could not expect a fair hearing.[24] [25]


Ahmed has operated as a property developer concurrent with his political career.[5] He helps with various charitable causes and has been on the board of several organisations, including a period as president of South Yorkshire Victim Support and currently as a trustee of the British Heart Foundation.[1] He resigned from his position as a trustee of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation on 18 March 2013 as a result of the allegations of antisemitism.[26]


In December 2001, Ahmed claimed that his phone had been tapped by the government because of his opposition to its intervention in Afghanistan. He claimed he had a heated conversation with Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane, during which MacShane claimed to have transcripts of Ahmed's private conversations. The government denied that Ahmed was under surveillance, and MacShane said that his remarks had been misinterpreted.[27]On 25 July 2005, Ahmed, while interviewing with Robert Siegel on National Public Radio, said that the suicide bombers of 7/7 had an "identity crisis" and that "unfortunately, our imams and mosques have not been able to communicate the true message of Islam in the language that these young people can understand."[28] Christopher Orlet of The American Spectator did not agree with Ahmed's "identity crisis". He said, "That's not an identity crisis, Lord Ahmed, that's religious psychopathy. That's a bloodthirstiness that makes Dracula look like a teetotaler."[29] Ahmed did acknowledge, "the community leaders and religious leaders, who have kept very close contacts with South Asia and the Middle East rather than keeping a good contact with the British society where we live."[28]

On 30 November 2006, the New Statesman reported a claim by fellow Muslim and Labour parliamentarian Shahid Malik that Ahmed had campaigned against him during the Dewsbury election in 2005. He alleged that Ahmed instead backed Sayeeda Warsi, vice-chair of the Conservative Party, the daughter of a personal friend. According to the New Statesman's report, Warsi "welcomed Lord Ahmed's support". The New Statesman also printed Ahmed's refutation, saying "I never told any constituent of Dewsbury to vote for the Tories"[30]On 11 February 2009, Melanie Phillips, a newspaper columnist, claimed that Ahmed had threatened to "bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the Lords if the campaigning anti-Islamist Dutch MP Geert Wilders was allowed to speak" at a broadcast of the film Fitna. Wilders had been invited by peers from the House of Lords to debate issues of social inclusion.[31] This claim was later denied by Ahmed, but the House of Lords authorities had determined to provide adequate security, if necessary. In the event, the film Fitna was broadcast as planned, but Wilders was denied entry to the UK, thus leading many commentators to deplore the action by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as appeasement.[32] [33]

Fatal road crash and subsequent jail sentence

On 25 December 2007, Ahmed was involved in a crash on the M1 motorway near Rotherham in which Martin Gombar, 28, was killed. Gombar's car had been involved in a crash and he had left it in the outer lane. Apparently trying to return to his vehicle from the hard shoulder he was hit by Ahmed, who was driving his Jaguar X-Type. Ahmed's wife and mother, who were passengers in the car, also received minor injuries.[34]On 1 December 2008, Ahmed appeared at Sheffield Magistrates' Court in connection with a charge of dangerous driving. Ahmed admitted sending and receiving five text messages on his phone while driving two minutes before the crash, and pleaded guilty to the charge before him. He was banned from driving until his sentencing. On 22 December, Sheffield Magistrates' Court referred the case for sentencing at the Crown Court on 19 January due to its "aggravating features".[35] This was later put back until 25 February.[36] Ahmed was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, which meant he would serve six actual weeks in jail, and he was disqualified from driving for 12 months.[37]

On 12 March 2009 Ahmed was freed by the Court of Appeal. Lady Justice Hallett said it was important to state that Ahmed's offence was one of dangerous driving, not of causing death by dangerous driving. Hallett said that there was "little or nothing" Ahmed could have done to avoid the collision and that after being knocked unconscious, he had come to and "risked his life trying to flag down other vehicles to stop them colliding with the Audi or his car". She said that while his prison sentence had been justified, the court had been persuaded it could now take an "exceptional" course and suspend the sentence for 12 months.[38] He was freed just 16 days into his sentence.[39]In subsequent interviews, Ahmed has incorrectly stated that he has no criminal record and that his sentence was overturned.[40][41]

Bounty allegation

A Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune, alleged that Ahmed said "If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of ₤10 million on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush", at a business meeting in Haripur, Pakistan, on 15 April 2012.[42] On learning of these allegations, the Labour Party immediately suspended Ahmed pending a formal investigation.[43] He later responded by stating "I'm shocked and horrified that this whole story could be just made up of lies...." Ahmed went on to say that he was not issuing a bounty but rather calls for the prosecution of George W. Bush and Tony Blair due to the "war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan" in what he considers to be "illegal wars".[44]

Video footage of the meeting, released on 18 April, showed that Ahmed had been misquoted and instead had said, "Even if I have to beg I am willing to raise and offer £10 million so that George W Bush and Tony Blair can be brought to the International Court of Justice on war crimes charges."[45] The same day, The Express Tribune offered a "clarification" that it had "erroneously reported" Ahmed's statement and that their reporter had incorrectly cited the name of Obama. The article stated that the newspaper "deeply regretted" its mistake.[46] His suspension was later revoked on 25 June 2012.[47]
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