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Lords Reject ‘Retirement’ Privileges For Nazir Ahmed

Lord Mance said the Conduct Committee is not moving a separate motion of expulsion because the Lord is no more a member of the House of Lords.  He also announced that the Lord will not be able to enjoy the privileges of retired member … reports Kaliph Anaz

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham, has been denied the retirement benefits from the House of Lords as the Conduct Committee passed the enquiry panel report without a debate.

In an earlier interview, the former Lord was hoping to use the privileges like access to Parliament and using the library to run campaign for Kashmir and Palestine.

Lord Mance, a former Supreme Court judge and the chair of the Lords Conduct Committee, said the nine-member panel is unanimous in its decision to expel Lord Nazir Ahmed from the Upper House of British Parliament.

Also Read – Lord Nazir Takes Case To EU Court

Lord Mance said the committee provided an embargoed version of the report to Lord Ahmed on 12th November with its decision to expel him. But the Lord filed a notice to resign from the House on 14th November.

Lord Mance said the House has to accept the resignation because there is no provision to refuse or delay the Lords resignation letter under the House of Lords Reforms Act (2014). So the resignation will take place automatically on the date mentioned in the letter.

Lord Nazir Ahmed with supporters during a rally

Lord Mance said the Conduct Committee is not moving a separate motion of expulsion because the Lord is no more a member of the House of Lords.

He also announced that the Lord will not be able to enjoy the privileges of retired member.

“I can assure the House that the Lord will not retain none of the privileges of a retired member. If this motion is agreed today, then the House of Lords commission agreed with the immediate effect that Lord Ahmed will not entitle to member’s pass or be able to access any of the facilities of the house.”

The motion was passed unanimously. That’s the end of the Parliamentary career of the most controversial British-Asian politician.  

The Panel in its report says the Lord in not co-operative to the enquiry and broke the Conduct for a privileged member of the House.

 “I find that by sexually assaulting Ms Zaman on 2 March 2017, Lord Ahmed was therefore in breach of the Code by failing to act on his personal honour,” said Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Commissioner for Standards. “I find that by failing to progress Ms Zaman’s case and lying about his intentions Lord Ahmed was acting without honesty or integrity. As such he was therefore failing to act on his personal honour and was in breach of the Code.”

Asian Lite cover on Lord Nazir Ahmed

The Commissioner also made two other findings: “I find that Lord Ahmed exploited Ms Zaman emotionally and sexually even though he knew she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression.”

This, the Commissioner found, “exacerbates the seriousness of his breaches of the Code”.

“On important issues Lord Ahmed persistently gave deliberately inaccurate and misleading accounts to conceal his behaviour towards Ms Zaman … I consider that in conducting himself in this manner he has failed genuinely to co-operate with my investigation. He has failed to act on his personal honour, as evidenced by his dishonesty and lack of integrity

Lord Ahmed appealed against the panel findings. Although he did not deny that a sexual relationship had taken place, he did deny other aspects of Ms Zaman’s account and he did deny that he was in breach of the Code of Conduct.

The Committee’s findings include: “Nonetheless, we found nothing in Lord Ahmed’s appeal to persuade us that there was anything plainly wrong about the Commissioner’s overall finding, that Lord Ahmed breached the Code of Conduct by failing to act on his personal honour: (a) in sexually assaulting Ms Zaman on 2 March 2017 after they had dinner to discuss the complaint she wished to make to the police; and then (b) in exploiting her emotionally and sexually by lying about his intentions to help her between August and November 2017.

“As to the second of these, the Commissioner found that Lord Ahmed knew that he was dealing with a vulnerable person, who was undergoing treatment for anxiety and depression and who had already made clear that she did not want a sexual relationship. He nonetheless misleadingly induced her to visit him at his house under the pretext of offering to assist her as a member of the House of Lords in relation to the matters she had wanted to be raised with the police, when his true motivation was to induce her into a sexual relationship which on this occasion he succeeded in bringing about, lasting over the next three months. Conclusion 36. The Conduct Committee accordingly dismisses the appeal of Lord Ahmed against the Commissioner’s findings that he breached the Code of Conduct by failing to act on his personal honour in the course of his parliamentary activities.

Lord Ahmed appeals against the Commissioner’s main report and addressed some points relevant to mitigation in his oral submissions before the Committee.

His submissions, taken together, addressed: (a) his background, activities in life and good character, in support of which various references were also relied on; (b) the fact that this was the first time he had been found in breach of the Code of Conduct or anything similar; (c) the devastating impact the report and any subsequent expulsion would have on his personal, matrimonial and public life; (d) the fact that the Guide to the Code says that “the longer ago the conduct occurred, the more certain the Commissioner should be of the need for such a sanction before recommending it.”; and (e) the inappropriateness of any severe sanction in the light of the fact that the sexual relationship was consensual and in light of the nature of those breaches which have been found by the Commissioner and which have also been endorsed by the Committee; and in particular the disproportionality of the Commissioner’s recommended sanction of expulsion.

The Commissioner also said that Lord Ahmed was uncooperative and dishonest and so failed to act on his personal honour in relation to her investigation, in core areas of both the Commissioner’s main and her supplementary investigations on which the Committee has relied in this report, combines with the fact that he has continued to deny any wrongdoing and has shown no indication of any regret, remorse or understanding of the inappropriateness of his conduct or its effect on a vulnerable victim. The risk of repetition also cannot be excluded.

Lord Nazir made history when he became the first Muslim, Kashmiri, and Pakistani to enter the House of Lords as a Labour peer in 1998. Prior to that he was a councillor at Rotherham. He was a confidante of then prime minister Tony Blair. He later turned against him over Iraq War.

Ms Zaman alleged that the Lord sexually exploited her on various occasions at his second home in London. In the BBC Newsnight programme, another victim accused the Lord of asking her to spend a night with him in London in return of helping her husband in a business tussle.

Lord Nazir tried to use Racist and India cards to deflect the allegations against him. But the Committee rejected all the claims and recommends for his suspension. Prominent journalists from the British media, representing BBC, Sunday Times, The Times and Asian Lite deposed in front of the Committee.

Also Read – Lord Ahmed Quits Before Expulsion Over Sexual Misconduct

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Sadiq Urges Businesses to Tackle Racism

Businesses of all sizes are invited to join Mayor’s Workforce Integration Network (WIN) to strengthen its network, utilise its resources and help create pathways into living wage employment for young Black men…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

A man wearing a face mask walks past a shop in London, Britain

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared City Hall a committedly anti-racist organisation as he unveiled a toolkit to help businesses cultivate genuinely inclusive working environments.

Sadiq said he is determined to tackle structural and institutionalised racism across London and is urging businesses to follow the new guidance.

The toolkit, which was published recently, offers practical guidance to businesses to help diversify their workforce and foster a truly inclusive workplace culture.

One in five men in the capital is Black, but Black men are significantly more likely to experience unemployment than their White counterparts, with 33 per cent of Black men out of work compared to 15 per cent of White men. Disparities persist even across educational levels with Black graduate unemployment at 13 per cent compared to a rate of just 4 per cent for White graduates, the Mayor’s office said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

According to a press release issued by the Mayor’s office, “Sadiq is committed to leading by example in making City Hall an actively anti-racist organisation and has, along with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, (MOPAC) pledged to take the following action, in addition to committing to the actions in the toolkit: launching an organisational-wide cultural change programme underpinned by an independent review into the structural barriers that prevent Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and specifically Black progression; setting targets by gender and ethnicity for the proportion of Black male and Black female staff across the GLA and MOPAC, and specifically the senior leadership teams to, reflect the wider London working age population.”

City Hall has been working to ensure that equality is a key part of its work, and is already reporting on its ethnicity pay gap and developing a pioneering action plan to close it, offering Covid-19 risk assessments across the GLA family including for colleagues from BAME backgrounds and working to increase the trust and confidence of London’s Black communities in the Metropolitan Police Service through the Mayor’s forthcoming Action Plan.

The new inclusive employers toolkit builds on the work of the Mayor’s Workforce Integration Network (WIN) – a City Hall scheme launched in 2018 to tackle disproportionate levels of unemployment among young Black men while seeking to improve access to sectors such as construction and technology where they are typically underrepresented.

Businesses of all sizes are invited to join WIN to strengthen its network, utilise its resources and help create pathways into living wage employment for young Black men.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Our capital’s diversity is its greatest strength, but the makeup of too many organisations, especially at their highest levels, fails to present a true picture of modern London.

“Your background, gender and ethnicity should have no bearing on what you can achieve which is why part of becoming actively anti-racist involves acknowledging the fact systemic racism remains pervasive across society. Employers and businesses must do more to embed anti-racist practices in their operations and their company culture.

“That is why, in declaring City Hall an actively anti-racist body, I am proud to share this toolkit with London’s business community. Helping them strengthen their workforce through the enrichment diversity brings and building a more resilient capital with genuine inclusivity at its core.”

 Sioned Churchill, Director of Grants at Trust for London, said:

“It’s not right that young Black men in London experience more unemployment than young White men. Employers across London can help address these disparities. The WIN ‘inclusive employers toolkit’ supports companies to improve the recruitment, retention and progression of young Black men within the workplace.”

Food Lite Blogs London News Restaurant Reviews

Indian food reaches new heights of fine dining at Benares London

Columnist and Restaurant Reviewer Riccha Grrover in an exclusive review of the iconic Mayfair london restaurant Benares and in conversation with their Executive Chef extraordinaire specialising in nouvelle Indian cuisine-Sameer Taneja, for Asian Lite International. 

Sameer Taneja

Chef Sameer spent many years working mainly with French chefs such as Pascal Proyart (2003-2009), Michel and Alain Roux (2009-2010), Joel Antunes (2010- 2011) and Pierre Koffmann (2011-2012).

The much lauded chef Sameer is originally from Delhi, India. He received his degree in culinary arts from Mangalore, on India’s South-West coast. Prior to moving to the UK in 2003 he worked at The Oberoi Rajvilas in the pink city of Jaipur in Rajasthan which is consistently ranked amongst the top hotels in the world by Tripadvisor and Conde Nast.

RG- Tell us about your journey as a professional chef, across kitchens and cuisines? Did you always plan to be a chef or did you dabble into the profession as an extension of a hobby? 

ST- Honestly speaking, I have had a challenging but satisfying career journey so far in the culinary world. I have had my fair share of ups & downs, few successes and some failures in my journey as a chef,  but surely with plenty of learning! 

Interestingly I never really planned on being a professional chef and nor that cooking was a hobby…my interest in food concepts, experimenting, innovating, cooking professionally came by chance and I each day I Thank God for it as this is surely my passion! 

This is the second best thing that happened to me in my life – first are my children! 

RG- What is like working for a big brand name restaurant kitchen of Benares?  How is benares different from all the other high end indian restaurants in central London in terms of what unique food experience you offer? 

ST- Benares is an institution in itself. It is a top indian fine dining brand. For me it is a dream come true to be able to cook here. Benares has its own style of food offerings. Our ethos of serving Indian food to discerning diners lies in simplicity yet innovation.

RG- What are the top five dishes you would recommend a first time diner to try ?

ST- I am biased! I like each dish that features on the menu but Oyster & Seabream Chaat, Baked Scallops, Venison, Spatchcock (Butter Chicken Roast) and Mashed Aubergine are very close to my heart and I cannot recommend these enough! 

RG- Do you have a seasonal menu too or is it always a fixed ala carte menu? Where does your menu take its inspiration from? 

ST- We have a seasonal pre fix 3 courses menu which changes often, a Tasting Menu (7 courses) which changes seasonally and A La Carte menu which is also refreshed seasonally. My menu is always inspired by the good ole home-cooked food from various indian households across the subcontinent and also regional eats offered by street hawkers. I then give it my own spin to showcase it in a globally acclaimed kitchen for the perusal of evolved and seasoned palates of diners in london city who love to dip into those flavours! 

RG- Tell us about the decor, interiors, drinks selection, music and the overall vibe you have created- how does it compliment the meal experience at Benares? 

ST- Benares restaurant exudes the beauty and the vibrancy of the holy ‘City of Lights’ in India while creating a strong impression with its striking contemporary design. Guests enter an elegant lounge with hand-crafted India inspired furniture and is complimented by a beautiful pond decorated with fresh flowers, creating a luxurious aesthetic. We have a unique cocktail menu with some Benares signature cocktails along with our Wine selection where styles meet spices! All the elements compliment the meal experience at Benares. It’s all about the balance. Drinks are led by my very talented colleague Jeepson Lopes.

RG- Tell us about some of your highs and lows in the  journey as a chef. What keeps you motivated and what’s been your mantra of success? What advice would you give budding chefs? 

ST- Highs and lows have been in plenty and have helped me to grow. They are too many to mention! But most importantly for me I try to find positivity in everything; I am in my element when surrounded by smiles. My family and my team support keeps me going. I am far from success, miles to go so I’m still working on my mantra as I discover it! 

My only advice to young chefs would be- head down, focus, push and repeat! 

RG- What is your personal favourite from the benares menu? What’s your favourite cuisine and restaurant when you go out to eat ? If you weren’t a chef what would you have been doing? 

ST- My absolutely favourite is Oyster & Seabream Chaat. This dish is inspired from street hawkers of India, every mouthful tingles your tastebuds with salty, sweet, sour, spicy, umami, bitterness.

I love, love, love it!

I have a soft corner for any home cooked food and It has always been my weakness. I like fish & spice  – can I call this my favourite cuisine?! 

Baked Malabar Scallop

There are many restaurants I like, but to name few Hoppers, Sabor and Corner Stone.

And oh …I would probably be a Stand-up comedian if I was not a chef! 

RG- How has the pandemic affected the meal experience at Benares? How have you kept the restaurant going and what changes do you need to incorporate in your restaurant  in a post covid era? 

ST- The pandemic have not only effected Benares but the whole FnB industry in general.

Here at Benares we are complying with all the Government regulations for a safer yet the original, gratifying and classy meal experience.

Indian Fine Dining Restaurant with British Flair in the Heart of Mayfair is a food destination, a culinary extravaganza, a lavish food experience to cherish. A food experience here can make any mealtime special and a special occasion even more special! The service is impeccable, the class-act unmatched, the food is worth writing home about, and the passion of the chef along with his team clearly shines through! 

Benares Restaurant and Bar since its opening in 2003 has been considered one of the finest Indian Restaurants in the city.

A meal at this Mayfair jaunt is a memorable one, the delectable food memories linger on! 

Business London News

London Transport Body Puts Ola’s Licence On Hold

Ride-hailing major Ola has failed to get its licence renewed in London due to public safety concerns raised by the city’s transport regulator. The company will continue its operations in the city despite the legal hurdle.

Ola said that it will appeal against the decision of Transport for London (TfL). Under the rules, a company is allowed to operate while appealing the decision of TfL.

The India-based ride-hailing major which began operating in London in February believes that it has corrected all the issues raised by the regulator and hopes to demonstrate them on appeal.

Ola was told by TfL that the company was found not “fit and proper” to hold a private hire operator’s licence, Sky News reported on Sunday.

“At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL,” Marc Rozendal, Managing Director, Ola UK, said in a statement shared with IANS.

Rozendal said that Ola has been working with TfL during the review period and has sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an “open and transparent” manner.

“Ola will take the opportunity to appeal this decision and in doing so, our riders and drivers can rest assured that we will continue to operate as normal, providing safe and reliable mobility for London,” Rozendal said.

Besides, London, Ola operates in several other UK cities including Birmingham and Coventry.

Ola’s rival Uber last week won a legal battle over its London licence as a judge ruled in favour of the ride-hailing major, while overturning a ban on the app by the city’s transport regulator.

Uber London Limited brought the appeal against the decision of TfL last year not to renew its London private hire vehicle operator’s licence over passenger safety

Read Today’s ePaper

Also Read: Uber lays off 3,700 workers over 3-minute long Zoom calls

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Boris Warns Of ‘Bumpy’ Road To Christmas And Beyond

British PM Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned it may be “bumpy through to Christmas” and beyond as the UK deals with coronavirus.

Speaking at a BBC program, the PM said there was “hope” in beating Covid, but called on the public to “act fearlessly but with common sense”.

He said the government was taking a “balanced” approach between saving lives and protecting the economy.

His comments come as the UK announced more than 10,000 new cases for the first time since mass testing began.

There were 12,872 new cases announced on Saturday. However, the government said a technical issue meant some cases earlier in the week were not recorded at the time so had been included in Saturday’s data.

Government sources said that because of an IT error there had been a delay entering the details of positive cases into the NHS Test and Trace system in England, which slowed the process of finding their contacts.

The problem was a “serious issue” but it has been “contained”, sources said.

The Prime Minister said: “The best thing we can do now for all those who have suffered in the course of this pandemic is bring it to an end in the speediest possible way.”

Labour’s shadow health minister, Alex Norris, criticised the interview as a “wasted opportunity” to set out a “serious strategy to improve public confidence in the government’s handling of this crisis”.

He said: “Instead [the PM] waffled and ducked every question. His serial incompetence is holding Britain back.”

Johnson said he believed over the “next few weeks and months” the “scientific equation will change whether that is vaccines or testing” and there will be “progress” in beating the virus.

As a result, he said there was “hope” and “things can be significantly different by Christmas”, as well as being “radically different” by spring.

But, the PM warned there could be “a very tough winter for all of us”, adding: “I tell you in all candour, it will continue to be bumpy through to Christmas and may even be bumpy beyond.”

Labour has been a long-standing critic of the performance of the Test and Trace system, with its leader, Keir Starmer, accusing the government of having “lost control” of the virus.

Johnson said the system was “not perfect” and that he was “frustrated with it”.

But he defended its “massive increase in capacity”, saying it had “made a huge difference” in tackling Covid-19.

Johnson also stood by the Eat Out to Help Out restaurant discount introduced in August, which some critics have said added to the rise in coronavirus cases in September.

“In so far as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus then obviously we need to counteract that and we need to counteract that with the discipline and the measures that we’re proposing,” he said.

But he insisted it was “right to reopen the economy” as the government tries to “strike the right balance”.

Johnson said he took “full responsibility for everything that has happened since the pandemic began”.

Asked about how effective the latest local lockdowns were in tackling the growing number of cases, the prime minister said it was “too early to say”.

Johnson said he understood the “frustrations” of people living in the affected areas – as well as a number of his own backbench MPs – but defended the action, saying: “I’m a freedom-loving Tory. I don’t want to have to impose measures like this, are you crazy?

“This is the last thing we want to do. But I also have to save life. And that’s our priority.”

“And I also think, by the way, that’s the priority of the British people and I think they will want to see their government continue to work, continuing to fight the virus and that’s what we’re doing.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth earlier called for the government to publish guidelines on what criteria they used to impose local lockdowns, and to involve local council leaders and health officials.

He said there were questions as to why current areas have extra restrictions, while the constituencies of cabinet ministers with higher case numbers remained unchanged.

“Because there are no clear guidelines as to why an area goes into restrictions, and how an area comes out of restrictions, then there is a suspicion that there is political interference,” he said.

“I hope there isn’t. But until the government publish clear guidelines, that suspicion will always linger.”

Johnson was also asked about his health following his own experience of fighting coronavirus in March and April – and in light of US President Donald Trump testing positive.

The PM said when he had the virus he was “too fat” and it was a “teachable moment for our great country” to get on top of the issue of obesity.

But he claimed it was “balderdash” that he was still suffering from the effects of coronavirus, known as “long Covid”.

He said the claim was “drivel”, adding: “It is balderdash and nonsense. I can tell you I’m fitter than several butchers’ dogs.”

The Conservatives are currently holding their first virtual party conference due to coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings.

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Entire London placed on COVID-19 ‘watch list’

A list of 38 new areas in England, including the entire city of London, has been added to a coronavirus “watch list” due to recent spike in the number of confirmd cases, the media reported on Saturday.

The new figure has increased the total number of areas on the list to 92 places , including all 33 London boroughs, the Metro newspaper reported.

Four areas — Leeds, Stockport, Wigan, Blackpool — have been escalated to the “areas of intervention” on list.

Meanwhile, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees have been added to “areas of enhanced support”, which means they could placed under a local lockdown.

Corby, Northampton, Peterborough and Stoke-on-Trent have been removed from the watch list.

Currently, there are around 17 million Britons living under some kind of restrictions due to the pandemic.

The development comes as scientists have warned the UK’s ‘R’ rate, which measures how quickly Covid-19 is spreading, is up once again from last week, reports the Metro newspaper.

According to data released the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Friday, showed the estimate for ‘R’ for the whole of the UK was between 1.2 and 1.5.

On Friday, the UK registered another single-day case recorded.

With 6,874 new cases, the overall tally has increased to 425,766, while the death toll stood at 42,025.