Lord Ahmed 'took advantage' of vulnerable women
A member of the House of Lords has been accused of exploiting his position to pursue sex with vulnerable women who asked him for help, Newsnight reveals.
One woman said Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham "took advantage" and began a sexual relationship with her after she approached him for assistance.
Her case has raised questions about the adequacy of the House of Lords Code of Conduct.
Lord Ahmed, 61, denies acting inappropriately.
Tahira Zaman, 43, approached Lord Ahmed in February 2017 through a mutual friend, hoping he would help get the police to investigate a Muslim faith healer who she felt was a danger to women.
Ms Zaman told BBC Newsnight that Lord Ahmed said he wrote a letter to the Metropolitan Police Commander Cressida Dick about her concerns. She then alleges that he repeatedly asked her for dinner.
She says she finally agreed and weeks after the dinner, she contacted him about her case and he invited her to his east London home.
"He was saying I'm beautiful," she told Newsnight.
The pair went on to have sex on numerous occasions.
She accepts the relationship was consensual but said: "I was looking for help and he took advantage of me. He abused his power."
The relationship ended after two months when Lord Ahmed told her he would not leave his wife, she said.
"I genuinely did believe that he had feelings for me, I'm just so stupid… and I believed that he was going to help me," she said.
In her interview with Newsnight, Ms Zaman said she feels exploited by Lord Ahmed because she was suffering from anxiety and depression.
In a second case, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous told Newsnight she had also asked Lord Ahmed for help and claims he suggested she should spend the night at his London home. She interpreted this as a proposition for sex, which she refused.
Lord Ahmed denies any wrongdoing.
In January of last year, Ms Zaman complained about Lord Ahmed's behaviour to the Lords' Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff.
"Lord Ahmed used my trust to repeatedly have intercourse with me," she told the commissioner. "I feel I have been preyed upon due to my vulnerability and used by Lord Ahmed."
But after reviewing her complaint twice, the commissioner said she was unable to investigate.
Ms Scott-Moncrieff concluded the code could not have been broken because when Lord Ahmed offered to help her and write to the police, it was not part of his parliamentary work.
She wrote to Ms Zaman: "The behaviour you describe in your email could amount to a breach of personal honour. However, the code only applies in relation to a peer's parliamentary work, and, from your email, it looks as if your initial contact with him was not to do with his parliamentary work."
Newsnight showed the full correspondence between Ms Zaman and the Lords' Commissioner for Standards to Lord Carlile - a barrister and former deputy high court judge. He said the rules should be clarified.
"If someone comes to you for help, particularly if they're vulnerable…and you form a sexual relationship, actually that's disgraceful," he said.
He added: "If it is not clear to the commissioner, who is a very experienced lawyer, then I think the rules need to be clarified and in particular the guide to the code of conduct needs to be clarified."
"She went to Lord Ahmed because she believed he was in a position to do something influential for her", he added. "So it's absolutely clear to me that what he was doing was in his role as a member of the House of Lords."
Lord Carlile said a sexual relationship between Lord Ahmed and Ms Zaman could breach two clauses in the code of conduct: one covering conflicts of interest and another which stipulates that Lords must behave on "their personal honour".
But in a statement to Newsnight, Ms Scott-Moncrieff, said: "Though credible and substantial, the complaint provided insufficient evidence that contact with the member was in relation to his parliamentary duties... To conclude otherwise, as Lord Carlile has done, is to misunderstand the code."
In a statement, Lord Ahmed told Newsnight: "I completely deny the allegation that I have exploited my position to pursue an inappropriate relationship with any member of the public (vulnerable or otherwise) or that I have acted inappropriately in the presence of women either in my personal or professional capacity.
"The House of Lords' Commissioner for Standards, Ms Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE, assessed the complaint and decided that it did not engage parliamentary inappropriate behaviour about me. She decided to take no further action."
He added: "I take my duties as a Parliamentarian extremely seriously and would not act so as to undermine my personal or professional reputation."