Hullabaloo Pending Release of Mubarek Ali From Prison (7th August 2017)

What the Independent, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Sun, BBC and local Shropshire media, MP Lucy Allan, et al are saying: Ali was one of two leaders of a sexual grooming gang that preyed on girls as young as 13 in Telford. Captured as part of Operation Chalice in 2011 and given an extended sentenced in October 2012, to serve 22-years, he has been told he will be released on licence as early as November 2017. Telford MP Lucy Allan attacked the decision to free him, which could allow him back into a community where his victims continue to live. 

In an open letter to the Shropshire Star, the MP said victims are “living in fear” and should have been better consulted ahead of Ali’s release. Ms Allan said the authorities did not inform victims of the forthcoming release or involve them in the terms of the release. She said: “Victims and members of the public would have expected a 22-year sentence to mean that the community could have time to heal and victims would be able to get on with their lives. “What we see in this case is that the one of the main perpetrators is being released into the community only five years after the trial.

This is clearly of enormous concern to victims in this case, especially those who gave evidence in court. What is unacceptable that in this case there was no attempt by the authorities to reach out these young women and prepare them for this wholly unexpected event. Worse still is the prospect that this person may be returned to Telford and naturally this has caused huge anxiety to victims.” 

Nearly 60,000 Lemmings have signed online petitions, condemning the pending release.

Shahida Begum Solicitor and Matthew Scott Barrister Set the Record Straight

There have been different types of Extended Sentences in place over the years and as a result that often causes a lot of confusion. We are writing to clarify the law surrounding Mr Ali’s sentence because it has been wrongly understood by a number of people, including Ms Allen, MP, wider media and Mr Trefgarne. There are now nearly 60,000 people thinking that the law can be influenced by a petition and that the force of public opinion should be able to supersede an independent judicial procedure. The bottom line is that Mr Ali is not about to be released early. He is not receiving “special treatment in any way.” Contrary to Ms Allen’s announcement, a 22-year sentence does not mean and has never meant ‘just that’. He was never given a 22-year custodial term.  On 5th October 2012, he received a total sentence of 22 years, 8 years of which consisted of an extended licence. The custodial element of his sentence was 14 years, and like most other prisoners he is entitled in law to be released on licence after serving half of that.

The fact that he will be released from prison does not mean that his sentence is at an end.  The public can expect to be protected because Mr Ali will not be free to live his life as he pleases as he will be subject to very stringent and burdensome Licence Conditions.  If he fails to abide by those Licence Conditions then he is likely to be recalled. 

Offenders recalled during this type of extended sentence may be detained until the end of the extended licence period, unless re-released earlier by the Parole Board.  The victim is statutorily entitled to make representations about licence conditions for inclusion on the offender’s release licence. The victim must be advised that any licence conditions must be proportionate and necessary to manage the risks presented by the offender.   The aims of the licence period are to protect the public, prevent re-offending and re-integrate the offender into the community. Each licence contains six standard conditions, plus additional conditions which can be tailored to managing the risk of serious harm and reoffending posed by the offender. This can include victim related conditions.

Licences may also include additional conditions, for example, exclusion zones or non-contact requirements, including victim-focused conditions.  Exclusion zones can be applied to spare the victim and their family the emotional harm arising from a chance meeting with the offender and to safeguard their peace of mind. This is because in the case of R (Craven) v Home Secretary (2001), the High Court ruled that respect for private and family life under Article 8 ECHR includes a victim’s family’s rights to go about their business with a minimum of anxiety and without undue restriction of their own movement.   When drawing up exclusion zones, the Victim Liaison Officer must be careful to manage victim expectations, and be aware that without sufficient evidence, zones that include an entire large town such as Telford or larger area are likely to be challenged and the defendant is likely to be successful if such a challenge was made to the High Court.

Mr Ali was convicted, following a previous aborted trial in September 2011, before HHJ Patrick Thomas QC and a jury at the Crown Court at Stafford.  The indictment included counts of controlling child prostitution, counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation and a count of causing child prostitution. In addition to his extended sentence, Mr Ali was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order. 

This was confirmed by the Court of Appeal judgment when dismissing Mr Ali’s appeal against sentence. The Court of Appeal commented that the ‘allegations undoubtedly raised matters which were squalid and sordid, indeed shocking.  On any view, these were very grave allegations indeed’. Yet, the court went on to say that “the judge said overall he was satisfied that an ordinary determinate sentence would not be sufficient to protect the public from him”. He indicated that he proposed to impose the maximum liable extension period which by law is 8 years.

The court said, ‘Sensibly and fairly’ to these appellants, and on the view the sentencing judge taken, he refrained from imposing sentences of imprisonment for public protection, which would still have been available to him under the old sentencing regime.  In layman terms that means that the sentencing judge who had the benefit of listening to the evidence and making his own assessment of Mr Ali’s conduct during the trial and the senior judiciary both considered that Mr Ali deserved a release date within 5 years or thereabouts from the date of sentence.

Ms Allan’s main issue and rightly so, was that the victims did not appear to have been informed of Mr Ali’s release on licence or his impending return to the local area, contrary to the current laws in operation. 

A petition has been launched to “make Ali serve his full sentence”.  But the point is that he will have served the custodial element of his sentence and will continue to serve his sentence until his Sentence End Date so the petition does not address the real issue which is why the victim’s were not informed of Mr Ali’s release. 

For those that have signed the petition on the back of misleading reports into this case, it is worth noting that the law has already changed since 2012 and if Mr Ali was sentenced after December 2012, he would need to satisfy the parole board that it was no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he be confined before they directed his release.

Shahida Begum, Solicitor and Matthew Scott, Barrister

Footnote: At trial in October 2012 Judge Patrick Thomas QC at Worcester Crown Court, sentenced Mr Ali to an extended sentence of 22 years, 14 years to be spent in prison and 8 years on licence.

This sentence was unlawful and was quashed by the court of appeal on 22nd January 2014 and replaced, again with an extended sentence, but this time with 8 years in prison and 6 years on licence.

These facts have been in the public domain, since January 2014 and can be found on Bailii,