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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Carlisle judge lifts gag on lawyers' cheat case

A Carlisle judge has lifted a gagging order which was imposed to protect the identity of two Muslim lawyers accused of trying to cheat the legal system.

Judge Peter Hughes photo
Judge Peter Hughes QC

Judge Peter Hughes had originally banned the press from identifying defendants Asha Khan, 30, and her brother Khashif, 34, after their lawyers said publicity would shame them in the eyes of their community.

The pair were accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice by trying to help their father dodge speeding points by claiming he wasn’t driving the car.

After a trial, Asha Khan was found guilty but her brother was acquitted.

Following a legal challenge, Judge Hughes lifted his original ban on reporting the pair’s names.

He ruled that the long-established principle of open justice – ensuring that the workings of the courts are open to public scrutiny – was more important than saving defendants from embarrassment.

At the start of the brother and sister’s court hearings, Miss Khan’s defence barrister Glenn Gatland told the judge she would not be able to give evidence properly if she was identified because she was afraid of family repercussions.

He said she did not want to criticise her father in public, though her mother was sitting in the court’s public gallery.

Mr Gatland told the court: “Miss Khan is quite upset that if matters are reported she doesn’t feel she would be able to give her evidence as freely as she would have done otherwise. The evidence would be impacted by the cultural background of Miss Khan.

Lifting the original order restricting publicity, the judge said: “People of all faiths or no faiths should be treated in precisely the same way.”

Earlier, the court was told that Khasif Khan had faxed papers to a magistrates’ court saying that a man who worked for the family wanted to plead guilty to driving the car that was seen speeding.

It was accepted that the driver of the car was actually Mr Khan’s father. Mr Khan junior successfully argued that he was simply trying to help by filling out the form and did not know what was happening.

The Khans work for KK Solicitors in Newcastle.

Asha Khan, who is a trainee at the firm, will be sentenced in the next few weeks, along with her father and the man who took the blame for speeding, who both admitted their part in the plan to dodge the speeding points.

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