A Conservative MP who publicly defended a convicted child sex offender has apologised and resigned as the chair of an LGBTQ parliamentary group today.
Crispin Blunt, who has been the MP for Reigate since 1997, said that Imran Ahmad Khan had been a victim of a “miscarriage of justice,” in a statement on his website after the former MP received a conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Khan, the 48-year old Conservative MP for Wakefield, was expelled from the party after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008. He has vowed to appeal the decision.
Blunt had said he was “utterly appalled and distraught,” at the jury’s verdict and that it was “nothing short of an international scandal.”
“I sat through some of the trial. The conduct of this case relied on lazy tropes about LGBT+ people that we might have thought we had put behind us decades ago,” he said, before retracting and deleting his statement.
“I am sorry that my defence of him has been a cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences,” he said on Twitter and in a statement on his website. “It was not my intention to do this.”
“To be clear, I do not condone any form of abuse and strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system.”
Blunt also resigned from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on LGBTQ rights. “It is a particularly difficult time for LGBT+ rights across the world and my statement risks distracting the APPG for Global LGBT+ Rights from its important purpose,” he wrote. “I have today offered the officers my resignation so a new Chair can be found to continue the work of the group with full force.”
Conservative MPs have distanced themselves from Blunt’s comments. James Heappey, the Armed Forces Minister, said that the comments were "not something the government associates itself with.”
Labour has called for Blunt to have his whip removed which would effectively expel Blunt from the Conservative party.