Sunday, 6 July 2008

Majid Ahmed Deserves A Second Chance (And So Do I)

UPDATE 5 July: I've just received a comment from Majid Ahmed that clarifies matters to my satisfaction. I wish the reports I read in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail and the BBC website had been more complete as I could then have seen the whole picture and blogged accordingly.
Thanks to Majid's clarification I am now going to rewrite this post again (When the facts change one changes one's mind). The final text will be in blue, obsolete text in black and any explanation will be in red. And please read Majid's comment as I'm sure you will then realise what a thoroughly decent and mature chap with lots of potential he is.
I'm a bit annoyed that my innate sympathy for the underdog has caused me embarrassment after I wrote the paragraphs below earlier: I still have an innate sympathy for the underdog.
Come on Imperial College, show a bit of humanity and give this reformed hard worker a place at medical school. You can bet he'll keep his head down and he'll bring life experience far wider than his peers. And what's the point of him reforming and turning his back on a single night of misjudgement if he isn't able to put himself back on track? Don't you understand that someone who has been through the criminal justice system and emerged as a reformed, motivated young man would be the last person to jeopardise his future?

Please reconsider your decision.

This is the CPS guide on Majid Ahmed's spent offence of burglary dwelling. You can see that four months' community service is at the low end of the tariff (although if it's done properly like Majid did it, it's tough) which shows the severity of the offence and mitigation. And if anyone thinks I'm being soft, my house in Manchester was burgled at Christmas nearly twenty years ago but I would be more than satisfied if the toerag concerned had shown the remorse and put his life back on the track again like Majid Ahmed.

And here's a report on the June 1958 "prank" whereby a car was put on the roof of Cambridge University's Senate House. How many crimes could have been committed?

"The then Dean of Caius, the late Rt. Rev Hugh Montefiore, had an idea of who was responsible and sent a congratulatory case of champagne to their staircase, while never revealing his suspicions in public."

Different times indeed. As one of my Law Professors said, The Criminal Law only comes into operation if the police are aware of a breach.

Update 21:10 Thanks to Tom in the comments I've checked the Imperial College School of Medicine website and found some interesting links regarding criminal records. They are clear. But see this quote from Imperial College: "Thank you for your letter of 20 december...Since your conviction is regarded as spent my understanding is that you would not be expected to disclose it in your application. Consequently, the information you have provided me will not be attached to your application..." But mistakes can be made - and, if possible, corrected. Everyone needs to have a CRB check completed. Majid Ahmed ought to have mentioned his spent conviction as it might not have disbarred him from a place. But not mentioning it may (without seeing the risk assessment) have raised doubts aboubt his openness and judgement. I was wrong in making this assumption from the scanty facts and timeline then available to me.

Thanks, Tom for helping me dig deeper. I respect your opinion. But I was wrong. And Majid, if you read this, please don't give up. Reapply next year and disclose everything. Next time I see you in the papers or on the telly I hope it's because you've got a place at Imperial or Harvard. I'm sure you'll make an excellent doctor - although you have the persuasiveness of a politician or barrister, you must follow your vocation. Good Luck.

12 comments:

Tom said...

The problem arises that it isn't a single case of misjudgement - in addition to being a convicted burglar he was also dishonest in his university application, which specifically asks applicants to declare any past convictions.

He knowingly witheld that information, hence the reason this was only picked up AFTER Imperial made him an offer. That shows a lack of integrity on his part.

And trying to pretend that a conviction only 2 years old was irrelevant is ignorance on the grandest level.

Of course that puts a slightly less newsworthy slant on things.

Gallimaufry said...

The relevant legislation is the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1973 (c.53)
http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?activeTextDocId=1776430
Mr Ahmed's conviction was spent and there was therefore no obligation to mention it on his ucas form.

Tom said...

I'm well aware of the legislation. No doubt you'll also be aware that medical careers are included on the Exception Order to the 1974 Act?

As such the convictions of people applying for medical degrees are never truly spent and are open to consideration by potential employers (or universities).

He got done for burglary 2 years earlier. What sort of budding medical student is too thick to think that's not worth mentioning?

Harry Hook said...

G&C commented...
"... my innate sympathy for the underdog..."

I think the victims of society and future patients of this thieving brat should all be viewed as the real underdog.

Tom said...
"What sort of budding medical student is too thick to think that's not worth mentioning?"

The sort, that drives cars into Glasgow Airport.

Gallimaufry said...

Yup,
Bang goes my flirtation with liberal thinking. I feel a right prawn. And a left one as well.

William Gruff said...

I cannot help thinking that sympathy for this young man is founded on his being Asian and a Moslem. I've noticed over the years that Asians are disproportionately represented amongst those 'doctors' and dentists struck off for serious misconduct and long ago formed the opinion that Asian cultures do not inculcate the same moral and social codes in Asians as ours do in us, to our detriment.

Mr Ahmed may have learnt from his past 'mistake' but he must also learn that one's actions sometimes affect one's future prospects irreversibly. He's been a naughty boy and in our culture disqualification from studying for a medical career is part of the price he must pay. He's lucky: Were he living in an Islamic country he would not have had the opportunity even to redeem himself as he has. He, and he alone, is responsible for his situation and our sympathy is wasted on him.

Gallimaufry said...

Good point about redemption not necessarily being equivalent to returning to a more favourable status quo ante. It just offers a fork in the road which might lead to one's intended destination.
We've all had upsets in our lives to a greater or lesser degree and working round them is what differentiates us from chimps - good cheddar being another thing.
I'm glad my experiment in championing the opposite view failed in this case. It's taught me why social liberals are mostly wrong.

Majid Ahmed said...

Hi Gaullimaufry,

I was just doing a bit of research about my recent publicity (which has been a surprise to me as well - the fact that it has caused so much interest) and I came across this blog. Despite wanting a medical place so bad, it is not possible for me to comment on every blog that is about me. However, your blog has interested me the most. It is interesting how you first had sympathy for me and upon some further research your view has changed. The reason for your change in attitude is in response to something that another person (Tom) has posted on your website.

This has been a major cause of concern for me, as I have found that when sifting through peoples comments, people generally tend to side with Imperial because they have not got the correct details of the circumstances or are lacking the details in knowledge.

Let me first make one thing clear – a lot of people are saying that I am not accepting responsibility for what I did. This is very wrong. I fully accept responsibility for my actions and I am very clear that my actions on that night wrong. I would like to say sorry for any distress that my inappropriate behaviour has caused and express every regret for my actions. Everyday I wish I had just thought more about what I was doing and not gone into that house and, if that was the case, then I would have completed my first year of medical training this June. However, 'such is life' is the saying in Yorkshire but do you not think that I should be able to move on from this incident given that I have done everything possible to reform myself and it was one point in life where I did not think logically about my actions. I made a mistake; it's what makes us human.

Now the greasy bit - Tom said "he was also dishonest in his university application, which specifically asks applicants to declare any past convictions." I was not dishonest. I actually sought advice from UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service) and they advised me that I do not have to mention spent convictions. This is the reason I did not mention it.

Let me explain it further. The year when I applied to Imperial College, I also applied to Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester which does not require spent convictions to be declared. Now the same application went to each course I applied to so how would I be able to mention it to one university and not the other?

Now it gets interesting - Tom then goes on to say "He knowingly witheld that information, hence the reason this was only picked up AFTER Imperial made him an offer. That shows a lack of integrity on his part." This is totally incorrect. I actually wrote to Imperial in Dec 2006 to declare my spent conviction, after gaining this advice of an admissions tutor at the University of Bradford, and this was prior to even being interviewed for the place on the course. I have got a letter from Imperial college saying the following -

"Thank you for your letter of 20 december...Since your conviction is regarded as spent my understanding is that you would not be expected to disclose it in your application. Consequently, the information you have provided me will not be attached to your application..." Professor John F Laycock (Admissions Tutor)

I think I have said enough. I would like to thank everybody who has supported my case and I just hope that we can all come together to ensure that this very bad decision is overturned. Furthermore, I would like to say Imperial is a fantastic university, one that has inspired me since the first time I set my eyes on it. It would be (or shall I say would have been) a great honour to study at this world-class institute but it seems on this occasion that the decision they have come to is appalling and I only hope they find it within their hearts to admit that it was wrong and reconsider this decision. However, I know how stubborn some people can be so I have decided not to raise my hopes.

Harry Hook said...

If you are indeed the real Majid Ahmed... how would you feel if you discovered that the officer handling your future Advanced CRB checks, had previous criminal convictions?

Tom said...

If you are the real Majid Ahmed what, apart from the alleged word of some UCAS flunky, made you think your conviction was irrelevant?

Was the copious amount of guidance on this too much of a burden to read? Did you not realise that the practice of medicine, as a position of immense responsibility, was exempt from the 1974 Act?

I'm sure every medical school in the UK is taking note of how you are trying to sully the good name of Imperial.

I somehow don't think they'll forget that when you come to reapply.

Gallimaufry said...

Majid Ahmed has contacted me again to affirm that he indeed sent his first comment.
This thread is now closed.

Majid Ahmed said...

Hi Tom,

Again, I am indeed the real Majid Ahmed. Are you even aware of what UCAS stands for? It stands for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS advised me not to mention my spent criminal conviction. They are the company that creates, deals with and sends out the applications to universities. Every applicant MUST apply through UCAS. Who do you think could advise better on how to fill out the application than the company that created it?

In addition, I already posed a problem of mine above - I applied to biomedical sciences (for which you don't have to disclose spent convictions) at the University of Manchester the same year I applied to Medicine at Imperial College. The same application goes to each course you apply to, so how do you propose I mention it to one university and not the other?

Furthermore, I don't even know why we are having this argument (have you not understood my comment above or do you just hate me or something?) when an admissions tutor at Imperial College confirmed:

"Since your conviction is regarded as spent my understanding is that you would not be expected to disclose it in your application. Consequently, the information you have provided me will not be attached to your application..." Professor John F Laycock (Admissions Tutor)

It appears that I was not actually being dishonest, but that the fact is that I was too honest and for this reason I lost my place in Medicine.

I rest my case!

Thank you

Majid Ahmed