THE father of a hero who died while protecting businesses during the August 2011 riots has spoken to a senior government minister about his call for a public inquiry.
Tariq Jahan is credited for bringing calm in the streets of Birmingham after his 21-year-old son Haroon was hit by a car along with his friends Shahzad Ali, 31, and Abdul Musavir, 30, on August 10, 2011, as they stood outside a mosque.
They had been trying to defend local businesses as a wave of rioting and looting swept the country. Jahan was widely praised for reducing tensions and preventing further violence.
Last week, the winner of the 2011 GG2 Spirit of the Community award met policing minister Mike Penning to put pressure on the government for a public inquiry after no convictions were made after the deaths.
In 2012, eight men were were cleared of murder during a controversial court case in which a police officer was accused by the judge of lying under oath. A subsequent investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission also failed to get to the bottom of what really happened.
“I did not get justice and I will never see justice,” Jahan told EE.
“I know now, having spoken to people at higher levels, that there will never be a retrial.
“What I can do is hold those accountable who made those mistakes and put the case in that position. I want some accountability.”
Jahan fears that unless his son gets justice, young people who listened to him in his appeal for calm will lose faith in the legal system.
He said: “It’s bad enough they have very little faith in the system in the country anyway, but to have a case that is so high profile and have it collapse and not get any justice sends a negative message.
“Who are they going to rely on? It’s only going to get worse. If we had people rioting for whatever reason, could you imagine anyone who went through the situation I went through trying to call for calm and peace? I don’t think anyone would listen now.”
Penning said he would get back to Jahan with a reply by the end of the month. Jahan explained how the policing minister told him about “seven different cases” in the country asking for public inquiries.
“He told me: ‘You have the biggest support from people higher up the echelons’. He didn’t say who it was, but I’ve got a feeling that Prince William stepped in and showed his support.” Last month Prince William backed Jahan’s demand for a public inquiry in the Wilson Green deaths.
“I had a private meeting with the Prince in Perry Bar last month. He sat at the table and said: ‘Look Tariq, I am 100 per cent calling for a public inquiry into your son’s murder’.
“He’s told me this previously because I met him twice before. I asked if I could release it to the press, he put both hands out and said: ‘By all means.”
Shabana Mahmood MP, who accompanied Jahan in his meeting with the minister, told EE she was openminded about how the inquiry would take place.
“The minister wasn’t able to say whether he will guarantee an inquiry will take place,” she said.
“He did promise that he will go away, consider it further, and see if there’s anything he can do to look into the handling of the case which is a good starting point.
“The families remain as far away from getting justice as they were on the day their loved ones got killed. There are all sorts of questions about the case.
“The decision to try those eight men on a joint enterprise seemed odd. It made it more difficult to get convictions. The decision to pursue a murder charge rather than a different charge was questionable.” Mahmood added that although there was no room for manoeuvre in getting the men who were acquitted in court again, new issues could be uncovered.
“You never know what a future review of evidence can uncover,” she said.
Penning said: “I was honoured to meet Tariq Jahan and his family with their constituency MP, Shabana Mahmood. During the autumn riots in 2011, Mr Jahan showed extraordinary courage in appealing for calm at a difficult time in the community.
“I have the deepest sympathy for Mr Jahan’s tragic loss that day and I will do everything I can to ensure justice has been served in relation to the subsequent handling of the case.”