A ‘PRIME mover’ in a cynical insurance scam that ended in a man’s death was formerly a respected politician who twice stood for election to Sheffield Council, The Star can reveal.
Mohammed Hafiz, aged 32, is one of five men facing jail for his involvement at a fire at the Advanced Taxis office on Abbeydale Road in November 2009.
Hafiz was pictured with Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, in June 2008, a few weeks after he stood for Labour in their target seat of Nether Edge.
The picture is still featured on Mr Blomfield’s public page on self-publishing site Flickr.
Mr Blomfield today distanced himself from his former party colleague, who polled 2,165 votes in Nether Edge in 2008, losing to Lib Dem Ali Qadar by a margin of 496.
The MP said: “This is a shocking crime and I’m appalled that it was committed by someone who stood as a Labour candidate. Everyone who met him will feel deeply betrayed.”
Sheffield District Labour Party chairman Paul Wood said: “What he’s done is horrendous. He was someone I had placed a reasonable amount of trust in and I feel very let down.”
A Yorkshire and Humber Labour Party spokesman said today that Hafiz was being expelled from the party.
He joined after defecting from the Lib Dems in 2003. He was a Lib Dem electoral candidate in 2002, but was heavily defeated in the strong Labour seat of Burngreave.
Hafiz gained just 485 votes and moved over to Labour the next year because the Lib Dems refused to give him a target seat.
Lib Dem Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for communities, said he could barely remember Hafiz and his role in the Lib Dems.
He said: “He was a paper candidate for us in an area where Labour were very strong.”
Hafiz, his two brothers, a cousin and a business partner each admitted conspiracy to commit arson at Sheffield Crown Court.
Plot member Timothy Darby died in the massive fire the men had planned in a bid to extract money from an insurance company.
Detective Superintendent Colin Fisher, who led the investigation, said Hafiz was the leader of the family and a ‘prime mover’ in the plot.
Hafiz, who lived in the Nether Edge ward on Machon Bank, hoped to stand again for Labour in the 2010 elections, but the fire ended his hopes, said Det Supt Fisher.
“He was ready to stand for the council elections but was unable to because of the investigation.”
Judge Robert Moore adjourned the case for sentence at Sheffield Crown Court, warned Hafiz to put his affairs in order because he would receive “a certain sentence of custody”.
His brothers Ilyas Khan, aged 23, and Mohammed Sarab Khan, 20, both of Machon Bank, their cousin Irfan Khan, 29, of Montrose Road, Carterknowle, and business partner Abid Ali Khan, 35, of Abbeyfield Road, Nether Edge, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.
No evidence was offered against a sixth defendant, Ehsaas Khan, 26, of Machon Bank.