A Muslim former newsagent from Birmingham has been handed a suspended prison sentence for two counts of racially aggravated harassment after calling a Member of Parliament’s secretary “white trash”. In a series of phone calls, he also bombarded female staff members with sexualised abuse.
Gulfram Khan, 49, of Handsworth Wood, Birmingham aimed his campaign of abuse at the staff of two members of parliament who had raised concerns about the awarding of the world cup to Qatar.
Madhu Rai, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, named one of the MPs as Damian Collins, MP for Folkstone and Hythe, the Birmingham Mail has reported.
“Certain matters had been dealt with by Mr Collins,” she told the court. “That was that he had notified the Serious Fraud Office of his concerns about the Qatar World Cup bid process.
“The defendant seems to have taken exception to this because he made a call on October 23 last year.”
According to Miss Rai, the defendant told Mr Collin’s personal assistant that the matter should have been taken up directly with the football governing body FIFA. He was told that the decision to do otherwise had been the MP’s.
However, Mr Khan called back the next day to insist that Mr Collins call him. During the course of the call he claimed to have been “disrespected,” and called the PA “white trash”. He then embarked on a sustained campaign of abuse, calling the office up to 20 times a day.
She said that he would start out politely but quickly raise his voice and turn abusive when he felt his questions were not being answered.
At the same time he also began targeting the office of Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, who had also taken an interest in the Qatar world cup. Miss Rai said that the defendant had again made referenced to FIFA, and had demanded to know Miss Crouch’s opinion on the World Cup mascot.
Again, when he was not given the answer he wanted he became abusive, bizarrely accusing her PA of bringing rickets back into the country.
Both victims described Mr Kahn’s behaviour as distractive, leaving them unable to deal with “genuine” calls.
Mohammed Hafeez, defending told the court that Mr Kahn had worked as a newsagent for 28 years, standing for election as a Conservative councillor on three occasions. As a result of continuously reading newspapers Mr Kahn had become “emotionally attached to the news,” he said, and when the business failed, found he had a lot of time on his hands.
“He acknowledges full well that there has to be a boundary. He is entitled to raise issues but there is a limit and there is a process. He accepts he has gone over that line.”
Judge Roderick Henderson agreed, telling the defendant: “You have strong views about politics and you are perfectly entitled to have those. But it is not a legitimate pursuit of those aims to abuse people.
“These calls involved rudeness, abuse and very often sexualised abuse to two women.”
However, he accepted there had been no “face to face” threats and that Mr Khan had not committed any further offences for a year.
Mr Khan, who had previously admitted two charges of racially aggravated harassment, was sentenced to nine months suspended for 21 months and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work. He was also handed a restraining order.