Trial into Rotherham child sex abuse halted after defendants were 'photographed in the dock'

Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Ali Akhtar, 36, leave Sheffield Magistrates Court - Credit: Tom Maddick
Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Ali Akhtar, 36, leave Sheffield Magistrates Court - Credit: Tom Maddick
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The trial into 12 Rotherham men accused of child sex offences was temporarily halted today after a row erupted.

Several of the male defendants claimed they were being photographed while in the dock.

A number of the defendants, among 12 Asian men facing a total of 44 offences, shouted and pointed towards three males in the public gallery.

The men's phones were confiscated by security guards.

Proceedings were momentarily halted at Sheffield Crown Court, by a judge who had to remind people taking photos is regarded as a contempt of court and could result in those responsible being fined or handed a prison sentence.

Judge Sarah Wright said: "It's a criminal offence to take photos in the court room.

"I regard it as a very serious Contempt of Court if there are any breaches of court rules in the public gallery."

It was not clear this afternoon whether the men had actually taken photographs in court.

There was a large police presence outside the court room following disruption at a previous hearing of the group of Asian men accused of child sex offences.

Amjal Rafiq, 38, Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 36, Aftab Hussain, 38, Abid Saddiq, 36, Sharaz Hussain, 33, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 38, Masaeud Malik, 33, and Waseem Khaliq, 33, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court today.

They all pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, aiding or abetting rape, indecent assault, sexual touching, supply of controlled drugs and false imprisonment.

The charges relate to the sexual abuse of eight girls under the age of 16 over a five-year period from 1998 to 2003.

Tanweer Ali, 36, did not enter and will be arraigned at a later hearing pending a psychiatric examination.

Mohammed Ashan, 33, was not produced but will be arraigned at a later hearing.

Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, Nabeel Kurshid, Iqlak Yousaf and Amjal Rafiq will face trial on September 3 next year, which is likely to last eight weeks.

Abid Saddiq, Aftab Hussain, Waseem Khaliq, Masaeud Malik and Sharaz Hussain will face trial on November 12 next year, which is likely to last six weeks.

The group were all arrested as part of Operation Stovewood - a police investigation into sexual abuse launched after the Rotherham grooming scandal.

Eight of the men, from Rotherham were granted bail.

Masaeud Malik was remanded in custody and Waseem Khaliq was granted technical bail.

All the men are set to appear at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday, June 29, for a pre-trial review hearing.

Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 makes it illegal to take or try to take any photographs or film of any person in any court, its building, or within its precincts.

Despite the existence of the 1925 act, a court may deem photography or filming in court or in its precincts to be a contempt of court in common law.