Kirklees Council’s Tory opposition is asking serious questions of council leader Shabir Pandor after a Labour councillor was jailed for repeatedly lying about a traffic offence.

Clr Fazila Loonat, 43, of Staincliffe, Batley, was jailed for 14 weeks after admitting perverting the course of justice.

Mum-of-three Clr Loonat, a Labour councillor for Batley East, was sent to prison along with her partner Afshin Amini, 34, who was jailed for 12 weeks for the same offence. The charge dates back to July 2020 and relates to a speeding ticket.

The council’s Tory leader Clr David Hall has written an open letter to Clr Pandor asking how much the council leader knew about the criminal investigation and why he didn’t act sooner.

Clr Hall set out four questions in the public interest:

  • When was Clr Pandor made aware of the police investigation into Clr Loonat?
  • When was Clr Pandor made aware that Clr Loonat had been charged with the offence?
  • Was anyone in the Labour Party aware of the investigation before Clr Loonat was nominated to stand in the May 2021 local election?
  • Why did Clr Pandor not suspend Clr Loonat from the Labour Group when either he learnt of the investigation or was told of the charges?

Clr Hall (Liversedge & Gomersal) said: “Kirklees residents expect and deserve the highest standards from their elected councillors. Perverting the course of justice in this manner is a very serious offence, as the gravity of the sentence bears out, and I believe Clr Pandor should have acted when he first learnt of the criminal investigation.

Clr Shabir Pandor

“Clr Pandor should have removed the Labour whip from Clr Loonat long before now: it is accepted practice in all political parties, in order to uphold public confidence, that elected members are suspended pending any ongoing police investigation.

“The fact that Clr Loonat is still sitting as a Labour member of Kirklees Council is disgraceful and shows a serious lack of judgment on the part of Clr Pandor.

“Clr Pandor should immediately suspend Clr Loonat from the Labour group and come clean about what he knew when.”

Bradford Crown Court heard that a Mercedes C220 car insured to the couple triggered a mobile speed camera on the A644 Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury, on July 5 2020.

Police later found that Amini had been driving but officers were given a fictitious name for the driver and an address that turned out to be a shop owned by Amini, which had no living accommodation.

The court was told a further warning letter had been sent to Loonat asking her to reconsider but again she submitted false details.

Loonat then posted an advert on eBay offering the Mercedes for sale to support her claim that the speeding offence occurred when a potential buyer took the car for a test drive.

Police visited her home and gave her a “final opportunity” to tell the truth but again she failed to do so.

Loonat, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the offence, finally admitted perverting the course of justice in March this year.

Loonat’s barrister Jayne Beckett described a “really huge and very sad fall from grace.”

In a statement Clr Pandor said: “I was informed of the case on February 28 2023. I immediately contacted the Labour Party, who suspended Clr Loonat.

“Following the judgement against her, the Labour Party will be taking action in regard to Clr Loonat.”