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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Bradford lawyer who defended white supremist says he doesn’t discriminate when taking cases

A South Asian lawyer from Bradford "doesn't discriminate" when it comes to taking on racially aggravated cases or people suspected of white supremacy terrorism.

A Bradford lawyer is giving back to the community by investing in property and the local people in his childhood neighbourhood in Holme Top in BD5.

Balaal Khan, 38, has worked in the profession for the past sixteen years. Mr Khan started his career at Khan Solicitors on Sunbridge Road in 2005 after graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University, working his way up to a partner and shareholder of the firm, before taking the plunge to launch his practice in 2017.

Mr Khan completed his undergraduate law degree at the University of Bradford in 2003, before completing a Legal Professions and Studies course in 2004, and a master’s in Law, Terrorism, and Human rights in 2005, both at Leeds Metropolitan University, now known as Leeds Beckett University and undertaking a Police Station accreditation from Cardiff University in 2006.

Mr Khan set up BKP Solicitors in 2017.

Mr Khan was inspired to become a lawyer after the Stephen Lawrence case, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, barrister, politician, and founder of Pakistan.

Mr Khan said: “As a young person, the Stephen Lawrence case was something I followed, and I looked up to the solicitor Imran Khan QC, who represented the Lawrence family during the public inquiry.

“The founder of Pakistan, Muhammed Ali Jinnah was a qualified barrister from London. I looked up to these people and so I decided to go to university to a degree in law, where I found my passion for criminal law and representing people who face miscarriages of justice.”

Mr Khan launched BKP Solicitors from a small office in the Park Lance Centre in 2017 and purchased the building the firm is in now in 2017. A disused public house, it took over three years to bring the building up to scratch.

The solicitor added: “I started in a small office in the Park Lane Centre in Holme Top. I purchased the premises, which was an old public house in 2017, to bring it back to life. We finally moved into the building in 2020, but due to Covid-19, we couldn’t hold a grand opening or anything like that.

“Opening this new premise was a big achievement but it was difficult, especially adapting to the Covid-19 regulations, but it has been for everyone over the past two years.”

The solicitor is not only investing in buildings in the local community, but he is also investing in the people. He currently has a team of nine people working at the firm, with more plans for expansion in the future.

He added; “As I’m from BD5, born and bred, I want to give back to local people. We’ve managed to expand the team to nine people, some of whom are the first in their family to enter further education.”

Abdul Jabbar started working at the firm at the age of 17 and is now training to become a solicitor.

Mr Khan has three trainee solicitors under him, and a 21-year-old solicitor apprentice, Abdul Jabbaar Ahmed, who was recently highly commended by the Yorkshire Asian Yong Achievers (YABA) awards panel in the Achievement in the Private Sector category.

Mr Ahmed joined the company as an administrator in 2017, leaving school without any GCSEs. Mr Khan enrolled Mr Ahmed onto a level two NVQ in business and then level three, managing to get him onto the trainee apprenticeship scheme, which after the full seven years, will make Mr Ahmed a qualified solicitor.

Mr Ahmed said: “Working at BKP Solicitors at a young age solidified what I want to do with my life.

“Growing up I was always interested in law having watched the likes of Suits on Netflix but didn’t really know if it were something I would want to pursue.

After conducting work experience, I found it fascinating and never looked back since. Every day is a new day and that is what I love about the job. As I started working at BKP Solicitors at the age of 17 I feel as though I have been growing with the firm. It has helped me tremendously in terms of personal development.

“I started off undergoing a level 2 business administration apprenticeship and moved on to a level 3 business administration apprenticeship.

“I am currently completing a solicitor degree apprenticeship. I have learnt everything from day-to-day office duties to completing casework and dealing with clients. We are a close-knit team, and it is like a family away from home, I feel like this helps greatly with providing a good service to clients.”

The building was a disused pub before Mr Khan bought the premises.

Speaking on why it is important to hire local people and give them training and opportunity that they might have not had otherwise, the solicitor said: “It is to give back to people who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity.

“Abdul was a young lad with a lot of passion, but he didn’t like the environment in school, so he was the perfect candidate to bring on. He started as a business admin, but we saw that he could do much more which is why we brought him on as an apprentice.

“Helping people from the local area is s something I’ve always wanted to do, to give people the opportunity to make a better future for themselves.”

Mr Khan works across criminal law, immigration law, family court, road traffic incidents, and action against the police and police station representation.

Mr Khan has represented people in high profile cases, not just in Bradford but across the country.

He said: “We’ve dealt with high profile cases across the country, not just in Bradford. We’ve dealt with terrorism-related offences in the Old Bailey in London and represented people with complex conspiracies right down to people with minor road traffic cases and to people accused of committing murder.”

In one of his most recent cases, the firm represented the lead defendant in a conspiracy to supply 176kg worth of cocaine in the North East of England and launder money to the sum of £8.4m over 44 days.

In 2019, the firm also represented a defendant accused of white supremacy, extremism, and dissemination of terrorist publications.

“Representing the defendant accused of white supremacy was no different to representing a defendant charged with a racially aggravated offence”, he added.

“We do not unfairly discriminate against anyone by allowing our personal views to affect our professional relationships and how we provide our services. On many occasions throughout the years, I have represented people who have never had close and personal contact with a person of colour or even a Muslim.

“Our interaction with those individuals often changes the misconceptions that they once held about people who are different to them.”

Mr Khan has big plans for the future, currently finalising details to expand into other areas in the country. Watch this space.

 

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