Former Huntingdon Mayor Given Suspended Sentence

A former Huntingdon mayor has been jailed after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice after asking a council member to make a false statement to police.

Saeed Akthar, 49, of Sapley Road, Huntingdon, was charged following allegations that he obtained references from fellow councillors for his son, Ghafar Akhtar, 21, under false pretence.

He convinced MP Johnathan Djanogly and Councillors Stuart Hassell and Christopher Tasker to write character references for his son, stating they would be used for a job application.

Little did they know the references were instead to be used to defend Akthar's son in court who had admitted a number of sexual offences.

Ghafar pleaded guilty in October last year to sexual grooming, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and involving a child in pornography.

He was given a three-year community order with three years' supervision and was placed on a 70 day sexual offences treatment programme.

After police became aware of the allegations against Akhtar, he asked Cllr Stuart Hassell to lie to police, stating he knew the reference was to be used in court.

A second charge alleged Akhtar falsely told his son's solicitor the references were provided for criminal proceedings, causing or permitting the lawyer to rely on the statements written by Mr Djanogly and Cllr Hassell in mitigation and causing or permitting Judge Nic Madge to accept the character references when sentencing Ghafar Akthar.

This charge was not proceeded with following Akthar's plea to the other charge and will remain on file.

Detective Sergeant Iain Moor said: "Mr Akhtar abused his position within the council in order to defend his son. Thankfully Mr Djanogly became aware of this wrong doing and raised his concerns.

"Today's sentencing should be seen as a warning to others that we take perverting the course of justice very seriously and will seek to bring offenders to justice."

Akhtar appeared at Cambridge Crown Court today (Friday) for sentencing after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing at the same court.

He was given 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. The judge also order Akhtar to complete 200 hours community service and to pay £500 in prosecution costs.

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