Calls for inquiry after 10 Asian men cleared of violent disorder following Rotherham clashes

A group of ten men with their supporters outside Sheffield Crown Court, as they have been cleared of violent disorder following clashes in the wake of two rival demonstrations. Pic: PA

Ten Asian men who were cleared of violent disorder following clashes in the wake of two rival demonstrations in Rotherham have called for an inquiry into why they were prosecuted.

The men said the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should have protected them rather than put them on trial.

Some of the group of ten men speak outside Sheffield Crown Court, as they have been cleared of violent disorder following clashes in the wake of two rival demonstrations. Pic: PA

There were jubilant scenes inside and outside Sheffield Crown Court on Wednesday after a jury delivered not guilty verdicts against all 10 defendants following a six-week trial.

All the men were arrested after a confrontation in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in September last year following a protest by far-right groups and a counter-demonstration by anti-fascist campaigners, which was policed by 800 officers.

The jury saw CCTV footage of violent scenes as a group of white men outside a pub clashed with a group of mainly Asian men in the town centre.

The footage showed fighting in the street between the two groups before police arrived in numbers to part them.

Police in Rotherham on the day of the incident

The court heard how tensions were high in the town as the Britain First-led demonstration was the latest in a series by far-right groups and it came shortly after the racist murder of 81-year-old Mushin Ahmed, who was attacked on his way to the mosque in Rotherham on August 10, 2015.

All the men were acquitted, amid applause in the public gallery, after arguing that they acted in self-defence.

Outside court and surrounded by the acquitted men, campaigner and spokesman of the so-called Rotherham 12, Suresh Grover read a statement on their behalf.

The group are known as the Rotherham 12 because 12 men were charged but two pleaded guilty. Doubt has now been cast on these convictions given the law around violent disorder, campaigners said.

Mr Grover said: "The jury, as representatives of the local population, have understood the impact of race and religious hatred fuelled by the far-right on the Asian Muslim population in Rotherham.

"They've also understood the need for communities under siege to defend themselves when faced with intolerable levels of racist threats and violence."

Mr Grover said the murder of Mr Ahmed was 'a death one too many'.

He said: "Apart from the actions of the far-right groups, our anger is reserved for South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service."

Mr Grover said the evidence clearly showed far-right groups had come to Rotherham to promote violence and sow hatred.

He said: "It beggars belief, knowing what the police knew, that the defendants were ever arrested, never mind charged and put on trial.

"Instead of protecting the real victims of this case, the police and the CPS turned against them.

"On that day they led them towards danger and left them unprotected.

"Public confidence in South Yorkshire Police is at an all time low it can only be regained if there is a rigorous independent inquiry into their conduct and behaviour."

He added: "The verdicts are a game-changer and will have an immediate and long-term impact on race relations in the region and nationally in post-Brexit Britain. "

Asif Zaman, 47, of Wellgate Mount; Mohammed Saleem, 43, of Mount Street; Arshad Khan, 44, of Wellgate Mount; Abrar Javid, 37, of St Johns Road; Imran Iqbal, 29, of Clough Road; Nasrum Rashid, 21, of Fraser Road; Moshin Mahmood, 18, of James Street; Sadaqat Ali, 39, of Milton Road; Shaban Ditta, 31, of Cambridge Crescent; and Akaash Nazir, 21, of Cow Rakes Lane, all in Rotherham, were all cleared violent disorder on Wednesday.


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