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Friday, December 1, 2023

Jailed former Kirklees councillor breaks silence and takes “full accountability”

Jailed ex-Kirklees councillor Fazila Loonat has broken her silence after being sentenced to 14 weeks in prison last month.

Former Kirklees Councillor Fazila Lanoot. Image: Kirklees Council

On Thursday, 6 July, at Bradford Crown Court, the former Batley East Labour councillor pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in an attempt to get her partner out of a speeding penalty. Ms Loonat supplied false details to the police and was given 14 weeks in prison as a result.

Ms Loonat took to Twitter on Friday (11 August) and published a post entitled “In my own words”.  She said “To my community, friends, peers, and all those who have surrounded my family and me with unwavering support and solidarity, words cannot express the depth of my gratitude.

“In a remarkable display of unity across party lines, as well as from those who have come to know me intimately over time, your messages have touched my heart in ways I cannot describe. Your belief in my journey has truly uplifted my spirits.

“Three years ago, amidst the challenging landscape of COVID-19 restrictions and while carrying the weight of pregnancy, I found myself facing a regrettable mistake. In the midst of it all, I humbly accept the court’s verdict and I take full accountability.

“While I hold the conviction that my status as a councillor may have inadvertently impacted the outcome, coupled with my steadfast decision to shield my family’s privacy, I acknowledge the path chosen.

“Choosing to uphold the decision was an agonising process, one that speaks to the paramount importance of my family’s wellbeing and my own health.

“Among us exist individuals whose convictions and perspectives may diverge from my own, a reality I embrace without reservation. Their freedom to hold differing viewpoints stands, as long as it causes no harm to my family, myself or others.

“It is with a sense of fairness and justice that I submitted my resignation as a councillor – an act I deemed essential for the constituents I served.

“Nevertheless, my resolve remains steadfast; I shall persist in amplifying the voices that often go unheard. I shall march unflinchingly for justice, much like the indomitable Batley Baths Campaign and many others.

“Once again, I am profoundly moved by the faith you’ve placed in me, the well wishes that have warmed my heart, and the solidarity messages that have fortified my spirit.”

The case of Ms Loonat prompted some tough questions from Kirklees Council’s Conservative group last month about the suspension of Ms Loonat, to the then Leader of the Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor. It was alleged that the council leader had “wilfully misled” the council through his handling of the situation and he was urged to resign.

Cllr Pandor has since resigned, though his reasons for doing so remain somewhat unclear. However, the ex-leader told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there is “nothing untoward” behind his sudden resignation.

Cllr Cathy Scott (Labour, Dewsbury East) is the acting leader of Kirklees Council and a new, permanent leader is set to be elected next month

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