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“Pick-up artist” Conviction Quashed Following Appeal After Unfair Trial

Adnan Munir Ahmed v HMA 2020

Mr Ahmed was convicted on 5 charges of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner towards young women in the Glasgow area in contravention of Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 in 2019. Mr Ahmed had made unsolicited comments to women aged between 16 and 24 which he had described in evidence as flirting including asking their name, complimenting their appearance and asking for their phone numbers. None of the women had welcomed Mr Ahmed’s advances and described themselves as feeling overwhelmed, or uncomfortable, shaken up, intimidated or stressed. 

After Mr Ahmed gave evidence the sheriff explained that he wished to ask questions to clarify matters. The sheriff questioned Mr Ahmed for a period of 10 minutes prior to addressing the jury. The appeal court determined that: “This was a process which had all the hallmarks of cross-examination designed to undermine the testimony of the witness, although we would observe that, in our opinion, it would be objectionable to ask a witness for comment of this sort and such evidence would be inadmissible.” This questioning had caused defence counsel to seek to object but she was informed by the sheriff without hearing her objection to “sit down” which was deemed “unacceptable” by the appeal court.

It was further determined by the appeal court that “ a polite conversational request or complement can be construed as threatening merely because it is uninvited or unwelcome.” This meant that Mr Ahmed’s conduct could not be said to be a contravention of Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Therefore his conviction was quashed.

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