England

Birmingham Hajj travel agent jailed over 'slum' trip

Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad
Image caption Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad has been given a 15-month jail sentence

A West Midlands travel agent who sold a family a £10,000 trip to Mecca but left them sleeping in "slum" conditions has been jailed for 15 months.

Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad, 38, of Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, had been found guilty of fraud and three charges of breaching package tour regulations.

He was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court for fraudulently mis-selling the trip in 2009.

He ran Hellenic Travels in Small Heath, Birmingham, which has since closed.

The case against him was brought about by Birmingham City Council's Trading Standards.

Mohamed Noori, from Rowley Regis, travelled with his wife and two daughters, believing they would be staying in four and five star hotels, but ended up in what was described as a "slum", the court heard during the trial.

Speaking after the verdict, Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Eustace, chair of the public protection committee, said: "It is a disgrace that rogue travel agents like Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad prey on vulnerable people at such an important time in their lives and we will do everything we can to protect these travellers.

"There are some unscrupulous tour operators that deliberately target the Muslim community, claiming they specialised in Hajj.

"They often don't have an air tours operators licence and therefore breaking the UK law and not providing legal protection for travellers."

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