By GRAHAME ANDERSON
Britain’s first female Muslim Lord Mayor was acquitted on Wednesday of Misconduct in a public office by The Court of Appeal in London.
Last year Naveeda Ikram pleaded not guilty to a charge of misconduct in a public office between 1 November 2014 and 31 August 2015. She was accused of seeking contracts for Nexus Assist and failing to declare an interest in that company, while an elected member of Bradford Council. She has always denied any wrongdoing.
Originally, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), alleged she was said to have ‘a financial interest’ in the success of Nexus Assist Ltd, which helped young people leaving care in Bradford.
As a Labour councillor for Little Horton since 2004, she resigned from the Council on November 15 last year, a day before she would have been automatically removed for failing to attend meetings for six months. This she said, was due to ill health. Ms Ikram was the first Muslim female Lord Mayor of Bradford in 2011-2012.
Case Thrown Out
Even before the half way point, the case against her was dismissed at Leeds Crown Court by Judge Geoffrey Marson QC at the end of last year. He said there was ‘no case to answer’, because of a lack of evidence. Prosecutors challenged this decision taking the case to the Court of Appeal.
A popular figure in the British-Pakistani community Ms Ikram maintained she had never sought contracts for Nexus, had no financial interest in the company, and ‘did not abuse the public’s trust in her.’
Court Of Appeal Verdict
At The Court of Appeal Lord Justice Colman Treacy said: There was ‘no sustainable evidence’ Ikram had sought council contracts on behalf of Nexus, and that Judge Marson was justified in having described the evidence against Ms Ikram as ‘wholly insufficient’.
From 2016, despite the intense scrutiny she was placed under from these accusations, Mrs Ikram continued to represent her constituents with the same energy and determination she always had in the preceding 12 years of public service.
Philip Goldberg of Minton Morrill Solicitors, acting on behalf of Ikram, said in a statement:
“Having taken time to consider its decision, the Court of Appeal today rejected the prosecution’s argument that the judge had acted unreasonably in reaching the conclusions he did, accepting the arguments put forward by the defence. The effect of this is that the judge’s conclusion that the defendant should be acquitted on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to justify a conviction stands, and Mrs Ikram has been found not guilty.
“Mrs Ikram has found this period of her life very distressing but would like to thank all of those people who have offered her support over the last two years, especially her husband, family and friends. Mrs Ikram would like to thank publicly her legal team who have represented her throughout the process especially her solicitor Philip Goldberg who headed the defence team at Minton Morrill and her barristers Paul Greaney Q.C. and Nicholas de la Poer.