- SKY NEWS - JUNE 18, 2021 - Contribuição Ernesto Matera, England -
A Tory MP faces trial accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.
Imran Ahmad Khan, 47, the Conservative MP for Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is alleged to have groped the teenager in Staffordshire.
The MP denies the allegation "in the strongest terms", saying "I am innocent" in a statement posted on Twitter.
Ahmad Khan, who was elected at the 2019 general election, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday by video link from his lawyers' office.
He can be named after reporting restrictions were lifted on Friday.
In the Twitter statement, the MP said: "It is true that an accusation has been made against me.
"May I make it clear from the outset that the allegation, which is from over 13 years ago, is denied in the strongest terms.
"This matter is deeply distressing to me and I, of course, take it extremely seriously.
"To be accused of doing something I did not do is shocking, destabilising, and traumatic. I am innocent.
"Those, like me, who are falsely accused of such actions are in the difficult position of having to endure damaging and painful speculation until the case is concluded.
"I ask for privacy as I work to clear my name."
The charge, which was read out in court, states: "In the county of Staffordshire you intentionally touched a boy aged 15 and that touching was sexual when he did not consent and you did not reasonably believe that he was consenting, contrary to Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003."
Asked to indicate a plea to the charge, Ahmad Khan, who was represented by Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, said: "Not guilty."
It is understood that the whip was suspended from the MP, meaning he will not be sitting as a Conservative in the Commons, when chief whip Mark Spencer was informed of the charges.
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said the case was not suitable for trial in a magistrates court and sent the case to the Old Bailey, with Ahmad Khan due to appear on 15 July, and granted unconditional bail until then.
According to his website, the MP was born in Wakefield, where he attended the independent Silcoates School before going to university at the Pushkin Institute in Russia and graduating from King's College in London with a bachelor's degree in war studies.
Before entering Parliament, he worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it made the decision to charge the MP after reviewing a file of evidence from Staffordshire Police.
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