Tax fraud solicitor struck off despite police plot plea

Police: No entrapment behind conviction

A solicitor convicted of tax fraud has been struck off, with a disciplinary tribunal rejecting his claim that he had been the victim of a police campaign to “get” him.

Azhar Islam Khan was convicted in January 2017 of one offence of cheating the public revenue, because he failed to declare his income from his firm, with the judge saying the solicitor was prone to “quite deliberate and wrongful instances where you recorded personal expenditure as business expenses”.

Mr Khan was also found guilty of two offences of knowingly being involved in the fraudulent evasion of tax, relating to his failure to declare income from two rental properties.

He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, reduced on appeal to nine months due to a sentencing error by the judge, and disqualified from being a director for four years.

He has appealed to the Court of Appeal but the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) refused his application to adjourn its hearing until the court had ruled.

Born in 1971 and admitted to the roll in 2011, Mr Khan had been the principal and owner of City Law Solicitors from 2005 to 2016.

He told the SDT that from 2009 the police had tried constantly to put him out of business and obtain convictions against him, although the ruling did not explain why they wanted to do this.

The SDT recorded Mr Khan’s argument that the police “had resorted to trying to induce him into committing criminal offences but had been unsuccessful”.

Mr Khan said he had managed to have a charge of perverting the course of justice thrown out for showing no case to answer, and was acquitted after trial for mortgage fraud.

“[Mr Khan] submitted that it was important to note that other solicitors and barristers involved were not charged, but were prosecution witnesses.”

He insisted that the police had continued to target him, working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to do so.

“He had provided documents to the [SRA] only to find those documents served by the police. This, it was submitted, was evidence of collusion… They were not separate incidents but a continuous targeting of [Mr Khan] with all the investigations led by the same DC.”

He also said he had been granted core participant status in the undercover policing inquiry in the miscarriage of justice category – he is one of 210 core participants named on the inquiry’s website.

Mr Khan said this amounted to exceptional circumstances that meant he should not be struck off.

But the SDT did not agree. It said: “During his evidence, [Mr Khan] confirmed that there was no entrapment by officers, undercover or otherwise, in relation to the conviction.

“He explained that, having failed to obtain a successful conviction on other matters, they ‘got me’ on something else. The attitude of the police was that they needed ‘to get this over the line somehow or other’.

“The tribunal noted that [Mr Khan] did not suggest that officers had fabricated any evidence as regards his conviction. Nor had he served or provided any of the evidence which he submitted rendered his conviction unsafe as ‘this was a matter for the Court of Appeal to decide’.”

The SDT concluded that Mr Khan had not provided enough fresh evidence to go behind the conviction.

Striking him off, it found that his misconduct was “calculated, dishonest and had continued over a period of time”.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £5,043.

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