A former Respect party candidate advised there is ‘nothing wrong’ with fathers arranging marriages for some 15-year-olds as it emerged that husbands who rape and abuse their wives are let into the UK.
Asama Javed is an immigration solicitor based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and was caught advising that girls could be married off if ‘mentally or physically ready’.
Footage of her suggestion emerged as a Freedom of Information request showed the Home Office received 175 inquiries about victims trying to block spouses’ visas last year.
Of these, 88 became full cases, which included direct requests from victims, known as ‘reluctant sponsors’, requests from third parties or instances where an official suspected a forced marriage, The Times reports.
It is two years since Mrs Javed resigned as a Labour councillor in the city, deflecting in a bid to become a Respect MP in nearby Halifax.
Welcoming her to his party, George Galloway described the mother of four as a ‘star’ with ‘prestige’.
But The Times reports that one of its journalists was told he could marry off his 15-year-old daughter as he posed as a father seeking her advice.
‘If she is mentally or physically ready and she is 15 or 16 years old, then there is no harm in it,’ the 44-year-old told the Pakistani man in front of her. ‘My [friend] was married when she was 15 but, by the grace of God, she was intelligent.’
Telling him that her friend’s daughters were also at ‘the age of marriage’ and will now be wed.
As well as working at Reiss Solicitors, she sits on Bradford Council’s fostering panel and is a school governor.
The journalist claimed to have a daughter aged 15 and another who had just turned 18.
Telling Mrs Javed that the older daughter had been married in Pakistan and was pregnant, he claimed that he was hoping to bring her and the husband home to the UK despite telling her that the unhappy daughter did not want to man to come back with her.
She warned him that ‘everybody will be in trouble’ if UK authorities suspect a forced marriage has taken place before advising him to ‘bribe’ and ‘spoil’ his daughter to avoid her making a fuss and risking criminal charges for those involved.
She advised him not to apply for a spousal visa for his son-in-law because that would need his daughter’s backing.
Instead Mrs Javed told him to bring his daughter back alone so she could have the baby. Then her husband could apply for entry as the baby’s father and come to the UK without the girl knowing or giving him permission.
The Home Office dealt with nearly 90 cases of forced marriage victims trying to block visas last year, although almost half were still issued.
Speaking in a mixture of Urdu and English, she told him girls can be ready for marriage below the age of consent – but advised him to wait until his younger daughter was 16 to avoid trouble with the law.
She asked the reporter if he believes his younger daughter is ready for marriage, to which he replies ‘no’.
Mrs Javed then responds by saying ‘there is no harm in it’ if the child is ‘mentally and physically ready’ and is aged 15 our 16.
But she suggested it was more effective and less risky to win youngsters over by bribing them.
The exchange was caught on film by the journalist and showed to forced marriage expert barrister Usha Sood.
It is illegal to assist or simply to encourage an offence if you believe it will be committed.
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police thanked The Times for providing the information and said the force will review it.
Bradford council has shared details of the exchange with the local fostering panel on which Mrs Javed sits as well as the school at which she is a governor.