LONDON: A senior British civil servant working for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) insulted a British Pakistani woman and also abused another female lawyer referring to her as a “dog” during the course of the UK’s biggest ever mortgage fraud probe.
According to official legal papers, Jonathan Francis McGarry, a leading lawyer within the Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance Department at the SFO termed British Pakistani Muslim woman Shabana Kausar a “gangster’s moll” in the presence of witnesses in court.
Without any provocation, Jonathan Francis McGarry attacked Shabana Kausar, the ex-wife of British Pakistani businessman Nisar Afzal.
The Serious Fraud Office has dropped the criminal fraud investigation into Nisar Afzal after 15 years of investigation. At the request of the SFO, restraining orders and arrest warrants were cancelled through the Southwark Crown Court against Nisar Afzal who left for Pakistan in 2006 denying any wrongdoing.
According to official legal papers, Shabana Kausar’s lawyers at Imran Khan and Partners made a formal complaint to the SFO against the civil servant.
The SFO investigated and found that McGarry was actually involved in the abuse. The SFO disciplined Mr McGarry and separated him from the case file of Afzal family members but the lawyer then quietly returned to the case.
Papers show that Jonathan Francis McGarry referred to Shabana Kausar as a “gangster’s moll” at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 28 February 2020 in the course of post-hearing discussions held with the counsel Christopher Convey and Jayne Edwards, the Principal Financial Investigator in the case.
Imran Khan and Partners also reported in the same complaint to SFO that Jonathan Francis McGarry attacked another professional woman related to the same case. On 20 October, McGarry sent an email to Ghislaine Sandoval, a trainee solicitor, saying: “At least Ghislaine has got a training contract now and isn’t merely a dogsbody.”
Meanwhile, Lawyers of Shabana Kausar at Imran Khan and Partnerships wrote that the highly offensive comment was “unwarranted, unprofessional and highly offensive, particularly as it came from a member of the prosecution agency” targeting a female who has suffered violence.
The complaint to SFO said the attack from Mr McGarry was a “serious breach of the SRA principles 2 and 5” as solicitors must “act in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the profession and in legal integrity. We don’t know why MG chose to compare a female trainee solicitor of this firm to a dog”.
The defence lawyers questioned that irrespective of the civil servant’s motives and the professional and disciplinary matters his conduct arises, his behaviour also gave rise to a serious concern as to how this matter was being prosecuted.
The lawyers also complained to SFO that in an email on 26 August 2020, the civil servant wrote to Southwark Crown Court accusing the woman’s son of attempting to sell a property known as Turtle Creek, Florida, USA, in breach of the court orders. They told SFO that he had misled the court because both the US Department of Justice and a lawyer of the son refuted the allegation as false.
The lawyers told SFO they were making complaints after a number of incidents over some time led to concerns regarding Mr McGarry’s professionalism and his regard to the Rules of Conduct in prosecuting the case against Nisar Afzal, Saghir Agzal and their family members.
According to legal papers, on 29 January 2021, the SFO confirmed in writing its investigation upheld two complaints related to Shabana Kausar and Ghislaine in that the comments were made and were inappropriate.
The SFO said that “as a result, we have taken the action” and Mr McGarry “is to have no further direct contact with you or your colleagues”. The SFO told lawyers it had encouraged Mr McGarry to apologise but neither any apology was given nor did Mr Mcgarry stay away from the case after he attacked two women.
Official papers show that Jonathan Francis McGarry is running the case against although SFO had taken him off the case over complaints by the Afzal family.