Cleric’s convictions may be ‘unsafe’

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A MUSLIM cleric potentially facing life in prison after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two boys has won the first round in his battle to clear his name.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, of Owler Lane, Fir Vale, Sheffield, was jailed indefinitely last March after being found guilty of rape and sexual activity with a child.

Khan, who was an imam at a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent, always denied abusing his position in the community to take advantage of the two youngsters.

Now, in a hearing at the Court of Appeal in London, three senior judges said it is ‘arguable’ the jury’s guilty verdicts are ‘unsafe’.

Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mrs Justice Sharp, granted permission for a full appeal hearing, at which Khan’s convictions could be quashed.

At his trial, prosecutors alleged Khan had singled out one of the boys for abuse and taken an opportunity to attack the other.

But his lawyers argued the trial judge, Mrs Justice Dobbs, had not properly explained to the jury the steps they had to take to consider their verdicts.

The judge had not directed the jury about whether they could use evidence about one of the alleged victims as evidence supporting the allegations of the other, the court was told.

Giving his judgment, Lord Justice Moses said: “We think it is arguable the judge ought to have given some direction about whether or not the jury were entitled to deploy their conclusion in relation to one boy in considering the evidence and the allegations in relation to the other.

“We have reached no conclusion as to the likely success of this ground. It merely is a matter which requires full argument in full knowledge of what went on at the trial.”

Khan is serving a sentence of imprisonment for public protection, with a minimum term of eight years. It means he can be freed only if he is considered safe by the Parole Board. He could stay in prison for life.

No date was set for appeal.