Muddassar Arani’s Letter to the Muslim Community
Assalam U Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Re: Muddassar Arani
My name is Muddassar Arani. I am a Muslim lawyer working with high profile Muslim clients. I believe I have been singled out and I am being targeted in the similar way that lawyers who took on the Irish Republican cases during the height of the "The Troubles'' were targeted.
I request support from the Muslim community as I believe that there is a witch hut taking place against me as I happen to be a Muslim lawyer representing terrorism clients.
I write this letter with deep concern about the repeated targeting and harassment that is taking place in relation to me. I deal with mainly criminal, family, civil cases nationally on an international level.. In particular, I specialised in anti-terrorism cases and have represented numerous high profile terrorist suspects.
I have been subject of numerous slanderous articles and victimisation by the media, the police, other solicitors, and the judiciary for many years now, treatment which other solicitors representing high-profile terrorism suspects have not been subjected to.
1. The Media
For several years now various leading newspapers in the UK have lead a public campaign to smear my name and firm with comments which have been racist, sexist and Islam phobic in their content.
On 6th February 2007 The Daily Express published an article which was unjustified, distorted or discriminatory, further it was unfair or inaccurate. The article stated that I was a receipt of the money paid out by the Legal Services Commission. The article featured a full size picture of me and described how my firm had received huge sums of money for representing clients including key terrorist suspects. It stated I lived a terraced property in Brentford, West London valued at £300,000.00, giving the impression that the house was owned by me and paid for from the money earned from the Legal Services Commission, when in fact the house is owned and paid for by my parents several years ago. I was castigated as a Muslim and discriminated against due to my religion.
Since 2004 The Sun newspaper began a smear campaign against me, simply due to the fact that I represent Abu Hamza. The Sun has orchestrated a huge smear campaign to discredit me and my firm simply because I am a Muslim lawyer who wears a headscarf and represents Muslim suspects.
On the 9th February 2004 under the heading "Hamza's lawyer hits you with a massive legal aid bill"; The Sun stated that Hamza's Mercedes driving solicitor received over £200,000.00 in legal aid in 2003 representing Abu Hamza (pounds 200k right hook, "the sun 9th February 2004"). The allegation has been repeated several times in subsequent articles which have no reporting relevance, but simply to continue the smear campaign against me. For example see "Get me off the hook'' article in-The Sun 19th March 2004".
In reality, neither I nor my firm received even a penny in legal aid for representing Abu Hamza's case as alleged. The article also published details of the area and the type of house that I lived in and the car that I drive in, which is a breach of part 3 of the Press Code of Practise. The article also referred to the head scarf that I was wearing when witnessed by journalist from The Sun. References were made to the religious clothing and were made to project me as a lawyer who shares the views of her client, Abu Hamza. This has absolutely no relevance to the story in question and was an entirely spurious association and was published in a prejudicial manner, thus breaching part 13 of the Press Code of Practise.
I wrote a letter to The Sun and issued a press release on the 11th February 2004 stating the inaccuracies of these articles but the Sun never published any of this, thus denying me the opportunity to reply in breach of part 1 and part 2 of the Press Code of Practise. Instead, The Sun published reader's letters calling for me to be struck off the role of solicitors and deported from the UK, the letters page of the Sun 12th February 2004.
The Daily Mail published an article alleging that I was accused of bribing a co-defendant in the 21/July case. This article has racist undertones by stating I am from Uganda, thus implying that my race is an issue, when clearly it is not.
I am one of the several solicitors from various firms that have undertaking terrorism case work. No other non-Muslim lawyer who represents rapist, terrorist and paedophiles has been subjected to a similar smear campaign. No other non-Muslim lawyer is subjected to such blatant racist and religiously discriminatory comments in the media, even those who represent suspects accused of far worse offences then the clients I represent. In fact when the press report on other solicitors like myself in this field of work, they are referred to as "human rights lawyer'', whereas in comparison I am labelled a "Muslim terror suspect lawyer'' or "terrorist lawyer.'' This is clear indication that due to the fact I am a Muslim I am regarded as a terrorist sympathiser because I represent Muslim suspects.
The affect of this hate campaign which has lasted for some considerable time, has resulted in me receiving a barrage of death threats, hate mails, and abusive telephone calls. When I receive vile hate mail from members of the public, they cut out these very articles that have been published against me, with vile comments and pictures on them threatening to kill me. Members of the public write to say I deserve the same punishment as my clients. I have been called a "Muslim *****'', told to "go back home'' and "accused of robbing the taxpayer by representing foreign wogs.'' The militant fascist wing of the National Front group, Combat 18 which has been banned in the UK, has my details on their website saying I am a foreigner and terrorist lover who should be shot between the eyes. They published the details of my firm and a picture of me which was obtained from the adverse press articles on me.
There have been various other stories in the press relating to myself and in particular how much earning that my firm has made in the past years. The obvious undertone to these articles with constant reference to my religion, race and family background from Uganda implies clearly that I am regarded as a Muslim and a foreigner who should not be in a position to represent Muslim suspects from public funding work.
Various MP's for instance John Spellar MP has tabled a Parliamentary Question for written answers on Monday 3rd September 2007 asking the Secretary of State for Justice to disclose the amount paid from legal aid to my firm during each of the last 5 years.
This enclosed detail of information specifically asked by John Spellar (Warley) who has posed questions to ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been paid in legal aid to my firm. Yet there has never been any such request from an MP for details on any other firm specialising in this field of work. This begs the question why not? Is it due to the fact that the other firm of solicitors are not Muslim lawyers, but are non- Muslim firm of solicitors who earn substantially large sums of payment than my firm does.
Yet if one were to look at the highest paid solicitors firm in the 2005 and 2006 these were non-Muslim firms, all of whom do legal aid work. For example earning for 2005-6 Highest Paid Firms – Criminal Defence Service.:
Tuckers Solicitors £8,459,000
Irwin Mitchell £5,305,000
Burton Copeland LLP £4, 993,000
The Johnson Partnership £4,763,000
Meldrum Young Solicitors £4,402,000
Joseph Hill & Co £4,087,000
Attridge Law £4,060,000
David Philips & Partners £4,048,000
Forbes Solicitors £3,958,000
Bark & Co £3,952,000
Yet Parliament does not discuss what payments are being made to them and neither are questions sought from the Ministry of Justice in relation to the payments which is made to other non-Muslim Firms. Out of all the lawyers in the UK only I am going to be debated about, why merely because I am a Muslim?
2. The Police
In August 2004 I filed a formal complaint against the officers at Paddington Green Police Station who treated me in a racist and Islamaphobic manner. The article in the Guardian 19th August 2004 were I allege that the officers were Islamaphobic. The officers told my clients that they would be better off with another lawyer and passed them business cards of other firms, even after the clients expressed their satisfaction with my representation of them. The police officers than informed my clients that they would be interviewed without their lawyer if they preferred in order to ascertain whether or not they were receiving independent legal advice.
Police officers also informed me that they were searching my clients because they had had too many consultations with me. Further more they did not permit me to notify the clients of their charges.
Incidences of this nature have unfortunately become part and parcel of the work that I undertake.
When clients wish to instruct my firm as Mr Ibrahim wished to do so, he was not permitted to have contact with me and every effort possible was made in order to ensure that he could continue to retain the services of the Duty Solicitor.
In the case of Frzana Khan police officers did not permit me access to my client and I was marched out of Paddington Green police station as my colleague was in the consultation room they refused to permit me to have consultation with the client, this is despite the fact that other firms of solicitors have more than one representative with their clients.
3. The Judiciary
I represent some of the defendants suspected of attempting to set up a series of explosions on the 21st July 2005. During the course of the trial I made various complaints about HMP Belmarsh, the maximum security prison in which my clients were being held. Following their sentences the Judge Mr Justice Fulford openly accused me of manipulating the legal system and deliberately delaying the trial. He described the complaints as a smokescreen and said they were designed to justify the late service of the defence case statement. He considered these complaints to be wholly unjustifiable. This is despite the fact that there was no adjudication on this matter.
HMP Belmarsh has been the subject of adverse comments. The HMP Inspectorate of Prison criticised HMP Belmarsh on some of the same ground which were the basis of the complaints made by me. Moreover, Belmarsh has been heavily criticised in resent reports by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane and Degrading treatment or Punishment (Report of the Government of The United Kingdom on the visit to the United Kingdom carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of torture and inhumane, degrading treatment or punishment from 14th to the 19th March 2004 and the 9th June 2005).
For the Judge to have made such comments in public without hearing any evidence on the issues was wholly in appropriate and potentially slanderous. It appears that the Judge is making a finding of fact when there was no adjudication of these matters and has aired this publicly in the presence of the media so as to ensure that his comments received maximum publicity in relation to the criticisms that were made in relation to me. Yet no criticisms was made in relation to the lawyers Mr Stephen Kamlish who represented the defendant Mr Aseidu who went cut-throat half-way through the trial, even though Mr Aseidu stated when giving evidence that he had given his lawyers instructions several months earlier that he had changed his defence. Nobody else was criticised in this regard save for me and my firm.
What is of more concern is the fact that the Judge Fulford was having private communication with Steven Kamlish QC knowing full well that there was a cut-throat defence which was advanced against my client after he had concluded his evidence in chief. This was the first time that we even become aware of the cut-throat. I attach copy of the schedule as to what took place in court. Aseidu's legal team ridiculed Islamic prayers and his lawyer told the jury that the supplication could only be considered in the most sinister of ways. I have the live notes that support my assertions in relation to this matter this information is in the public domain.
4. Other Solicitors
During the trial of 21st July terror suspects, I was accused by Steven Kamlish QC Defence Counsel for one of the co-accused Kwaku Asidu of attempting to bribe his client. Yet, his own client did not accept these allegations.
Previously the Solicitors Regulation Authority has investigated complaints made by other lawyers made against me attempting to poach clients but these were never upheld.
This concerted attack on me and my firm is completely unjustified.
These were false accusations that were made during the trial by Mr Kamlish QC and yet these assertions were not substantiated by his client when he was in the witness box. This is the same QC who alleged the similar conduct against others previously and the Bar Council suspended him for 6 months, which on appeal was reduced to 4 months see attached.
As a result of this, at the conclusion of the case when my clients were convicted, there were numerous articles which were written in the press in relation to me which again resulted in massive media coverage, massive speculation, character assassination which took place. The public were so influenced by the adverse press reports, so much so that we received death threats, abusive and vulgar telephone calls and also abusive anonymous letters being forwarded to us labelling us as "terrorist'', "immigrants who should leave this country.'' Yet there was no mention of the non-Muslim lawyers who represented the other defendant Mr Osman, who was also convicted of the same charges as my clients. It seems that non-Muslim solicitors have a right to represent Muslim terror suspects, yet when a Muslim lawyer does so they are maligned as "terrorist sympathisers.''
The fact that non-Muslim terrorist solicitors have not been similarly targeted suggests a clear underlying Islamaphobic motivation behind this campaign to oust me from the legal profession. This only serves to undermine due process in the criminal justice system. It also gives out one message that if you are a Muslim lawyer you are not able to defend Muslim terrorist clients otherwise if you are a Muslim in outwards appearance you will also be subjected to slander, humiliation, Islamaphobic and singled out and targeted by the media, the police, the judiciary and other lawyers.
There is a character assassination that is taking place in relation to me and it is nonsensical and utterly baseless lies. In fact I have repeatedly sent out press releases to every major publication stating unequivocally that the allegations are lies. I have stated in my press releases that in fact the person I supposedly had bribed, himself denied these allegations in open Court, and the fact I myself referred that very same person to the firm of solicitors who represent him now when he wanted me to represent him. Yet time and time again the media refuses to publish the true facts. The media deliberately edits parts of my press release to give misleading version of events, for no other purpose but that fact I am a an easy target. A Muslim women in headscarf who is guilty as alleged, even though I have always denied these allegations from the very first day and continue to deny them. There is no other reason why the media is doing this but to character assassinate me and ultimately to sell papers and make news because "Muslim bashing'' is the media's favourite topic and has been since this "War on Terror'' began; and will continue to be so, unless we Muslims stand up and start defending ourselves and innocent members of our community.
I am being targeted merely because I happen to be a Muslim, a woman who wears the headscarf. I need the assistance from the Muslim community to stand by me as I feel isolated and let down by the community whom I have always defended and who have turned to me in their hour of need; and now I am being persecuted because I have stood up and defended those who do not have a voice or who have been ostracised by the Muslim community themselves because of fear of being targeted with the same brush of extremism.
We as Muslims pride ourselves in being the Best Community, One Ummah. I need to know if my Ummah, my community will now come to my aid and defend me in my hour of need. The question I put to my Muslim brothers and sisters is this-Will I obtain assistance from the Muslims or not? Do I stand alone or will you stand with me or not? I will not permit this attack against me go unanswered, therefore will you join me in this fight against the racist, Islamaphobic and sexist attacks on a fellow Muslim.
The Muslim community at large have always stated that they support me and recognise the discrimination against me as I am a Muslim who has become another victim on this "War on Terror" however I need the Muslim community to now voice that support in public, clearly and unequivocally. I need organisations to speak in my defence on their websites, in their publication and in the media at large (T.V. Radio internet) to come forth and speak and defend me in the same circles, the same arena and same media outlets that are persecuting me. In particular I need assistance from those organisation who claim to represent the interest of Muslims in the UK and they know who they are.
I have clearly shown above how this sustained campaign against me is an attack on the Muslim community and Muslims everywhere. As I truly believe that if today I am being persecuted as a professional lawyer and attempts are being made to hunt me out of my legal profession, to stop me representing our brothers and sisters in police stations, in prisons, in Court, in the media and highlighting the injustice that is taking place against our Muslim community simply because I am a Muslim woman, than which Muslim will come forward tomorrow to represent and fight for the rights of his fellow Muslim who are being victimised and abused? If today I as a lawyer can be targeted in this way, what hope is there for ordinary Muslims to defend themselves and the Muslim community? If today this fear of speaking up against injustice is instilled in the Muslim community, then this "War on Terror'' has succeeded in silencing the Muslims in this country forever. Muslims in this country can then forget about being accepted as equal citizens in this country with equal rights when even lawyers like me who struggle to defend the human rights of our Muslim brothers and sisters are maligned and persecuted for simply doing our job and speaking up for the truth.
I want to thank you for the time in reading this letter and pray that I will not be let down by my fellow Muslims, I sincerely hope we can work together to show those who for years have exploited the weakness of the Ummah through divide and rule that Muslims now can unite in defence of justice even if it is against ourselves, Insha'allah. I look forward to hearing from you.
Can you please confirm if you are willing to assist and provide your details so we can contact you and discuss this further, my contact details are: Muddassar@Aranisolicitors.com
Miss Muddassar Arani