Pictured: Nazir Afzal was widely praised for his role in tackling the Rochdale scandal
A British Asian lawyer has been banned by fellow lawyers for speaking out in The Mail on Sunday about grooming scandals involving predominantly Asian men and white girls.
Nazir Afzal, who was widely praised for his role in tackling the Rochdale grooming scandal, has been barred from making the keynote speech at the Society of Asian Lawyers annual awards and ball in London on October 28.
He was shocked to be told he was no longer welcome at the glittering event because of his ‘offensive’ comments in this newspaper.
The embarrassed SAL lawyer tasked with notifying Mr Afzal of the ban told him he personally opposed the decision – but had been over-ruled.
Sachin Trikha, a member of the SAL committee, said in an email to Mr Afzal on September 22, leaked to this newspaper: ‘Candidly, and regrettably, a member of our committee voiced concern over whether your article in The Mail on Sunday on grooming and your keynote speech may cause offence to guests at the ball.
‘I did not share that concern but we decided not to risk any offence, given the size and scale of the event. I confess this is not a decision I advocated, but is the decision the committee has taken.
‘With that in mind, we no longer require you to deliver a keynote speech. I personally regret having to send you this email very much.’
Jailed: Shabir Ahmed (top left), Adil Khan (top right), Abdul Aziz (bottom left) and Qari Abdul Rauf were members of a child sex grooming gang
Six weeks earlier, Mr Afzal, a previous SAL award winner, had accepted an invitation to deliver the keynote speech at the prestigious black tie event at the five-star Lancaster Hotel, attended by 600 of Britain’s top lawyers.
In between, he had written an article in the MoS on August 12 in which he said that the growing problem of South Asian grooming gangs operating in British towns and cities had to be confronted.
‘We can’t flinch from difficult conversations,’ he wrote. ‘The Asian community cannot go back to victimhood. We need to challenge a misogynistic culture that’s getting out of control and need to talk about the predators in our community.’
Mr Afzal was shocked to be told he was no longer welcome at the glittering event because of his ‘offensive’ comments in this newspaper
Mr Afzal said last night that he was ‘very disappointed’ by the SAL ban. ‘I have always argued that misogyny was the main driver of grooming and not race or religion,’ he said.
‘Lawyers are supposed to stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable, yet some are more offended by me calling out violent misogyny than the awful crimes committed by people in our community.’
The snub echoes the controversial forced resignation of Labour frontbencher Sarah Champion earlier in the summer after saying:
‘British Pakistanis ARE raping white girls and we need to face up to it.’
A friend of Mr Afzal said: ‘Like Ms Champion, Nazir has been made to feel like a pariah by people who should know better. Anyone who challenges these ugly views becomes a persona non grata. But Nazir will not be gagged.’
Last night, a SAL spokesman said it utterly condemned grooming.
He added: ‘The society simply decided to consider other speakers to avoid any perception of taking a political stance, given some of the remarks Mr Afzal had made.’