THREE men who were jailed for a total of 57 years for their parts in a grooming gang earlier this year received almost £425,500 in legal aid, it has been reported.
Basharat Khaliq, Saeed Akhtar and Naveed Akhtar, were all jailed in February for the grooming and sexual abuse of two girls in Bradford over a number of years.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the trio received hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal aid, which was all paid to the lawyers who represented them in court.
Legal Aid is available to all British citizens, and to receive it you have to prove to the Government; your case is eligible for legal aid, the problem is series, or you cannot afford to pau for legal costs.
The Ministry of Justice said applicants must pass a “strict means test”, and could be required to pay back up to the entire cost of their defence.
Basharat Khaliq, 38, of Glaisdale Court, Allerton, was jailed for 20 years for five offences of rape and one of assault by penetration, and his lawyer, Abdul Iqbal QC, was paid £105,612.05 in legal aid.
Saeed Akhtar, 55, of Back Girlington Road, Girlington, was jailed for 20 years for rape and received two concurrent terms for inciting child prostitution, and his barrister Peter Moulson QC received a payment of £194,464.49 through legal aid.
Naveed Akhtar, 43, of Newport Place, Manningham, received a 17 year term behind bars for two counts of rape, and his representative Robin Frieze was paid £125,419.44.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Anyone facing a crown court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a strict means test.
“Applicants for criminal legal aid can be required to pay contributions up to the entire cost of the defence.”
During the trial, the jury at Bradford Crown Court heard how one of the girls was abused by all nine defendants was taken to other cities, and men from elsewhere in the country attended at the “party house” in Bradford where drugs and alcohol were freely available.
The teenager was plied with drugs by the men and became addicted to alcohol and cocaine. She was given 21 lines of the Class A drug in one go and was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver by the time she was 18, and now suffers from PTSD.
In sentencing the three men, and six others to a total of 132 years, the Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said: “The jury has seen this case for what it is, clear, determined, cynical and insidious grooming.
“Your behaviour has been as wicked as it is incomprehensible to our society, and indeed all in this community.
“She was treated by you, or some of you, like a toy or a commodity to be used.
“No major city in England and Wales seems to have escaped this problem, grooming by older men acting together or alone.”