Friday, 30 August 2013


Here are the top ten countries from which the blog has received visits in the past week.
  1. United States 683
  2. United Kingdom 492
  3. Russia 299
  4. Poland 201
  5. Germany 124
  6. France 105
  7. India 64
  8. China 54
  9. Ukraine 52
  10. Israel 30

This week's total: 2,108 (last week: 1,766). These are aggregates of figures from the top ten countries only. Blogger's analytics doesn't show the numbers of pageviews below the tenth-ranking country and they don’t show the cumulative total including those additional countries, which is undoubtedly larger than the number shown above.

The world map at the top of this post is the graphic that I see on the stats page. The darker the green, the more pageviews from that country. I can see different versions of that map for "now" (i.e. in the last two hours), "today", "this week", "this month" and "all time". They're updated each time I look at them.

Saturday, 24 August 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Dharmesh Lakhani, owner of Bobby's restaurant, with Madhur Jaffrey and MP Keith Vaz in a scene from Jadoo
There's much ado about Jadoo
by David Owen
Excitement is building ahead of the world premiere in Leicester of a film showcasing the city’s vibrant Indian community and famous cuisine.
Stars of the much-anticipated foodie comedy Jadoo, shot on location in Belgrave’s Golden Mile, will walk the red carpet on Tuesday, September 3.
Tickets are now on sale for the exclusive screening at Showcase Cinema de Lux, in Highcross.
Jadoo, which means “magic” in Hindi, stars Harish Patel, of Run Fatboy Run fame, and Kulvinder Ghir, who appeared in Bend It Like Beckham.
Leicester-born writer and director Amit Gupta said: “I’m so happy my home town is hosting the premiere of Jadoo.
“It will be a very special evening and I’m so happy that the people of Leicester will have the chance to attend and experience the Jadoo magic.”
Jadoo follows two chef brothers, Raja and Jaqi, who have a nasty fall-out which sees them rip up the family recipe book – one left with the starters and the other the main courses.
Setting up rival restaurants on opposite sides of Belgrave Road, it is left to Raja’s daughter to help them reconcile their differences in time for her wedding feast.
The film includes dozens of cameo and walk-on performances from Belgrave residents.
Dharmesh Lakhani, owner of Bobby’s restaurant, plays a judge in a cooking competition alongside Leicester East MP Keith Vaz and actress-chef Madhur Jaffrey.
To see a trailer for the film CLICK HERE

Friday, 16 August 2013


Here are the top ten countries from which the blog has received visits in the past week.
  1. United States 588
  2. United Kingdom 407
  3. Russia 272
  4. France 102
  5. Poland 96
  6. Germany 87
  7. Ukraine 70
  8. India 50
  9. Sweden 48
  10. China 46

This week's total: 1,766 (last week: 2,115). These are aggregates of figures from the top ten countries only. Blogger's analytics doesn't show the numbers of pageviews below the tenth-ranking country and they don’t show the cumulative total including those additional countries, which is undoubtedly larger than the number shown above.

The world map at the top of this post is the graphic that I see on the stats page. The darker the green, the more pageviews from that country. I can see different versions of that map for "now" (i.e. in the last two hours), "today", "this week", "this month" and "all time". They're updated each time I look at them.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Shivani Acharya, 9, of Birstall, celebrates with an Indian flag in Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre
India's 67th independence day celebrated
People gathered at an event last night to mark India's 67th Independence Day.
The celebrations began at 7.30pm at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, in Leicester.
The night, which was hosted by the Gujarat Hindu Association, began with a flag-raising ceremony.
Mr B C Pradhan, consul and head of chancery at the Indian High Commission in Birmingham, was the guest speaker.
Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth read a short message, as did assistant city mayor Piara Singh Clair.
Mr Ashworth said: "I firmly believe Leicester and the UK are stronger today because of the Indian community."
After messages had been read out, Bollywood dancers took to the stage.
The night before, hundreds of people celebrated Pakistan Independence Day in the city.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Hundreds celebrate Pakistan Independence Day in Leicester
Hundreds of people poured on to the street to celebrate Pakistan Independence Day in Leicester last night.
St Peters Road, in Highfields, was closed by police from about 10pm as revellers gathered and celebrated by dancing, waving flags and sounding hooters.
The road, which was shut from East Park Road to Melbourne Road, re-opened at about midnight.
Inspector Ben Gillard, of Spinney Hills police station, wrote on social networking website Twitter: “Flags and high spirits in the Highfields for Pakistan independence day. All good natured.”
After the road re-opened he added: “Everything good humoured, people polite and friendly. A pleasure to police #credittoLeicester.”
Celebrations are also expected tonight to mark Indian Independence Day.
Festivities normally begin in the Belgrave Road area during the day and the street is often closed by police during the evening as revellers gather waving flags.
In Leicester, the celebrations traditionally involve a street party on Belgrave Road, a party in Cossington Park, and cultural performances at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre. Thousands of people attend the annual celebrations in the City.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


At Phoenix this morning, for the regular fortnightly meeting of Creative Coffee Leicester. It’s a quiet day today (being in the middle of the summer holiday) but there’s still a mix of old faces and new. More new than old, I’d say, which is a good thing.

Becky Wilson (Social Media Geek) is steering the ship this morning. That's her in the photo above, sandwiched between Harry and Grace.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Man charged with attempting to murder guru
by Tim Healy
A 26-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder.
It follows allegations of an assault at the Gurdwara Namdhari Temple in Linden Street, Spinney Hill, Leicester, at approximately 5.25am on Sunday.
The alleged victim was Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji, worldwide spiritual head of the Namdhari community. He was treated at the Leicester Royal Infirmary for injuries and later discharged.
The accused is due to appear at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Guru injured in axe attack
by Alan Thompson
Worshippers at early morning prayers looked on in horror as a man in the congregation took out an axe and attacked a visiting guru.
About 300 people were at the Gurdwara Namdhari, in Leicester, on Sunday morning when the horrific attack took place on Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji, spiritual head of the Namdhari community worldwide.
The guru, who had been taking prayers, was hit on the right wrist as he tried to defend himself. The blow broke a bone. As worshippers stared in disbelief, the attacker struck again, cutting open his forehead.
Several members of the congregation then rushed the attacker, pinning him to the floor until police arrived.
The guru's elderly mother, who is accompanying him on his first visit to the UK, was sitting next to him and witnessed the attack.
The guru's wounds were tended by members of the congregation until paramedics arrived and he was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary. He was later discharged.
His programme of activities in the UK, visiting members of the Namdhari community across the country, has been severely curtailed by the attack.
Witness Ranjit Singh Flora, vice-president of the Sikh community in the UK and secretary of the gurdwara, said: "This chap was in the congregation for the prayers, which began at 3.30am and were ending at 5.30am, just before sunrise. He walked in through the doors into the hall. He was wearing a religious outfit like the rest of the congregation and covered himself with a shawl."
He said the man had a strap of cloth across his chest, into which, it emerged, he had put what Mr Singh described as "an axe, about 30 inches long".
"I was sitting right at the front," said Mr Singh. "The programme was about to finish and the hall was full.
"He walked slowly down the walkway, then faster. As he came to the place where you bow down, he quickly took off the shawl and pulled out the axe, jumping on to the stage. He brought the axe down and Guru Ji put up his right arm to defend himself, which was fractured in the attack. He took a second swing at him, splitting his forehead above the left eye, down to the nose. It all happened so fast. There was a lot of blood.
"Members of the congregation, which came from all over the country, got up and overpowered him, asking him why he had done it.
"Everyone was shocked and shaking. Guru Ji's visit was very important to us. It was his first trip to England.
"He has a scar on his forehead and his right arm is in plaster.
"A chunk of flesh came off when the axe struck and it broke his wrist, but he is quite strong and energetic.
"He came back for morning prayers again this morning and police provided security."
Mr Singh Flora described the incident at the gurdwara, in Linden Street, Evington, as "very disturbing".
He said: "We are a peace-loving people. An attack like this is beyond our understanding. We don't know what his motive was."
Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji became the head of the Namdhari sect in December, after the death of the previous leader.
Indian news organisation Punjab Newsline reported that since then there had been a "consistent campaign against him", launched by followers of another claimant for the Namdhari gaddi, or throne. It is not yet known whether disquiet over the accession had any link to the attack.

Monday, 12 August 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji
Spiritual leader attacked in Leicester
A spiritual leader was taken to hospital after being attacked in the early hours of the morning in Leicester.
Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji, the spiritual head of the Namdhari community worldwide, was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary for treatment after the assault.
Police were called to the Gurdwara Namdhari in Linden Street, Leicester, at approximately 5.25am on Sunday August 11 following a report of an assault.
Officers attended the scene where Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji was found to have been assaulted.
A 26-year-old man was arrested at the scene and remains in police custody.
At this time police believe it was an isolated incident, which was carried out by a single person.
Investigations are ongoing and police would ask anyone who has information about the incident or was in the Linden Street area between 3am and 6am on Sunday August 11 to contact them on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 9 August 2013


Here are the top ten countries from which the blog has received visits in the past week.
  1. United States 1006
  2. United Kingdom 311
  3. Poland 153
  4. France 145
  5. Germany 115
  6. Ukraine 93
  7. China 84
  8. Russia 68
  9. India 63
  10. Latvia 58

This week's total: 2,115 (last week: 3,366). These are aggregates of figures from the top ten countries only. Blogger's analytics doesn't show the numbers of pageviews below the tenth-ranking country and they don’t show the cumulative total including those additional countries, which is undoubtedly larger than the number shown above.

The world map at the top of this post is the graphic that I see on the stats page. The darker the green, the more pageviews from that country. I can see different versions of that map for "now" (i.e. in the last two hours), "today", "this week", "this month" and "all time". They're updated each time I look at them.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


On the first Wednesday evening of every month, Leicester PIPs (Philosophy in Pubs) meets upstairs in The Crumblin' Cookie on the High Street.

Our stimulus tonight is the statement, "The world is what you think of it. So think of it differently and your life will change" (from Paul Arden's Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite (Penguin, 2006). The stimulus is provided - and the session facilitated - by Clare Carr.

Last month's stimulus was "Can you choose what you believe?". This month's veers at times toward "Can you choose what you think?"

This is the first session of Leicester PIPs I have attended in five months. It's good to be back!

Visit Leicester PIPs page on Facebook (and check out The Crumblin' Cookie too, while you're there).


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Sharen Ravat, centre, at St Philip's Church with the Rev Sonya Brown and Suleman nagdi and some of the toys
10,000 toys are heading to Syria
by Fiona Dryden
Generous folk have donated more than 10,000 toys for children devastated by the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Sharen Ravat, a multi-faith chaplaincy co-ordinator at Leicester College, was so deeply affected by the plight of children in Syria she decided to launch the initiative to help bring some joy to families, many of which have lost members.
According to the United Nations, the conflict has led to the worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanda, more than two decades ago.
The drop-in session held at St Philip's Church, in Leicester, on Sunday collected more than 10,000 toys – enough to fill seven van loads.
Sharen said: "The toys have been given to the charity Hand in Hand for Syria, which will take them to children in hospitals and refugee camps in Syria.
"I pay tribute to the wonderfully generous people, including many children, who donated toys for this vital cause.
"What was particularly heart-warming was that so many of Leicestershire's different faith communities came together.
"Collectively, they demonstrated their shared values of compassion and love for children they will never know. I hope that these toys will bring a smile to their faces."
The Federation of Muslim Organisations was one of the many faith organisations supporting the campaign.
Spokesman Suleman Nagdi said: "We were privileged to be part of this superb charity effort, which focused on children. I pay tribute to Sharen Ravat, who single-handedly had the vision to arrange this appeal." 
Fadi Al-Dairi, from Hand in Hand for Syria, said: "The people of Leicestershire will make a lot of children smile."
Hand in Hand works in partnership with projects overseas that have been established by members of the local community.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Plan for two-day festival unveiled
by Dan Martin
Organised by Leicester City Council, it will be an amalgamation of celebrations already held in the city, as well as a number of new events.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "For the first time, we are bringing together a lot of separate events which will effectively double the size of the celebrations across the city.
"If it proves a success, as I am sure it will, we will look to make it a bigger and even better event last year."
The idea was conceived last year as part of a city council review of festival funding.
This year, the budget has been cut from £366,500 to £308,500 and will fall to £288,500 in 2014.
The events making up the City Festival will be mostly free and the mayor hopes it will become an annual event to bolster Leicester's bid to become UK City of Culture in 2017.
Humberstone Gate West and Gallowtree Gate will host the eighth annual Sports Fest on the Sunday, with coaching sessions on offer in basketball, football and boxing.
There will also be live music and dance, including Chinese dragon dancing.
On the Sunday, from 11am to 4pm many city streets will be shut so cyclists can take part in the annual Sky Ride.
On the same day the market will host Our Leicester Day, a celebration of the city's community groups, clubs and societies.
On Bank Holiday Monday, the city's history will be celebrated with the Old Town Festival at Magazine Square, Newark Houses Museum and Leicester Castle. There will be medieval re-enactments, the opening up of historic buildings and a food fair.
Leicester Mela, traditionally held in July, has been moved to the Monday and will take place around the Clock Tower with a Bollywood and Bhangra celebration of South Asian culture.
Town Hall Square will host the Journeys Festival over two days. Involving art, drama, music and poetry from refugees, it will tour the East Midlands.
Finally Orton Square, outside Curve theatre , will host End of Pier Delights on Sunday and Monday. It will be a seaside celebration for youngsters.

Monday, 5 August 2013


I pop into BBC Radio Leicester this afternoon to record a Thought for the Day with Producer, Rebecca Bryers. This one's for broadcast on Jonathan Lampon's breakfast show, Wednesday 7 August - and here's how it sounded on the day:
JL: It's time for Thought for the Day, which comes today from George Ballentyne, a local Bahá'í.
GMB: Good morning
This week we learned that over a million UK workers are on zero hours contracts, a figure four times higher than previously thought.
If this way of working fits in with your way of living, it can be a perfectly good way of staying in gainful employment. But for some other workers, they are always on standby, without guarantee of any pay for any work in any period. They must turn up at their place of work if and when required, often at very short notice, with barely time to make arrangements for dependants.
For some, this can make it difficult to access the kind of financial services (credit, loans, mortgages and so on) on which our daily dealings depend.
In the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, one of the central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, "arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exhertion put forth by man from the fulness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer."
As a Bahá'í, it's my hope that our society does not forget the dignity and nobility of good, productive work - and the dignity of the worker - even in these difficult times.
JL: Thought for the Day there, which came from George Ballentyne, a local Bahá'í.

I send the text to Becca a couple of hours before I go in to record it. She feels obliged to ask me to tone it down a bit - twice. I feel righteously indignant about this issue and have used a quotation from The Promise of World Peace to illustrate that, but it was all a little too hard-hitting as a Thought for the Day. I rewrite the piece on the hoof - literally - on the half hour walk from Christians Aware in Saxby Street down to St Nicholas Place (Well, not all that literally, since I don’t have hooves and even if I did, it would probably be quite hard to use them to type on an iPhone). Becca talks me down off my high horse and helps me deliver something more suited to the format and time slot.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Festival of Chariots attracts thousands
Thousands of men, women and children joined in to heave three huge chariots through the city streets yesterday as Lord Krishna was displayed to his devotees.
The 16th annual Rathayatra Festival of Chariots, staged by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, saw the parade draw in about 10,000 people from all over the country.
Some had travelled from afar afield as India, and dropped to their knees as the effigies of Lord Jagannath (Krishna), his sister Subadhra and older brother Balaram, were slowly pulled past.
The worshipers were in Leicester today to witness the celebration of the 5,000-year-old festival, which included singing and music and culminated in a large feast at Cossington Park.
Devotee Madhava Das, 29, who lives in the city, became a monk eight years ago.
Since then he has lived a disciplined lifestyle, visiting other parts of the country to share his beliefs.
He said: “This is the one time of year when those who maybe don’t go to the temple can see the deities, which come out once a year.
“It’s so people can see them - and by pulling at the ropes of the chariot it signifies that they are pulling the Lord into their hearts and lives. The music is essential too.
“We chant a mantra to glorify God and to celebrate life and spirituality.”
The three giant chariots, measuring up to 30ft tall, were taken from the Clock Tower, along Belgrave Gate, over the flyover and finished in Cossington Park, where a feast was waiting.
Live music, dancing and singing - which took place on a large stage - was also on the bill at the post-parade festival.
Ben Dowdeswell, 33, and Lee West, also 33, from the Derek Frearson Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu group, who meet at the Peepul Centre, in Orchardson Avenue, entertained the masses with a Chinese lion dance.
Ben, from Barwell, said: “This, for me, sums up the great diversity of Leicester - a bunch of white guys dancing around in a Chinese lion costume at a Hare Krishna festival.
“I think it’s great, it’s our third year and they keep calling us and getting us back - so we must be doing something right.”
Two weeks ago more than one million people gathered in India for the largest staging of this worldwide festival.
Ezrsebet Varga, 46, who had travelled from London to take part in today’s event, said: “This festival has been celebrated for thousands of years, and people come from all over the country.
“In India it’s huge. More than one million people went recently.”
In 2010, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) were left with no place of worship after an explosion destroyed the temple in North Evington.
Now, the group members are hoping to set up a restaurant, heritage room and an informal library at the former HSBC bank, in Granby Street, Leicester.
A planning application for the former bank has been submitted to Leicester City Council.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Warning for motorists ahead of Festival of Chariots
Motorists are being warned about possible delays due to the annual Festival of Chariots that takes place in Leicester tomorrow.
The Hare Krishna Festival of Chariots, known as Rathayatra, is the second largest festival of its kind in Europe, with 10,000 people expected to attend
The procession is due to start at the Clock Tower at 11.30am before moving along Haymarket, Belgrave Gate, Belgrave Road, Cossington Street and Rendell Road.
It is due to arrive at Cossington Park at about 2.30pm.
As well as delays along these roads, there will also be diversions for some buses. Passengers are advised to check with their bus company for further details.
The festival includes people pulling three huge chariots carrying the Deities of Lord Jagannatha (Krishna), his sister Subhadra, and Lord Balarama from the Clock Tower to Cossington Park, accompanied with music, singing and dancing.

Friday, 2 August 2013


Here are the top ten countries from which the blog has received visits in the past week.
  1. United States 1176
  2. Indonesia 802
  3. United Kingdom 335
  4. Saudi Arabia 298
  5. France 219
  6. Russia 131
  7. China 118
  8. Venezuela 112
  9. Germany 83
  10. Ukraine 72

This week's total: 3,366 (last week: 3,293). These are aggregates of figures from the top ten countries only. Blogger's analytics doesn't show the numbers of pageviews below the tenth-ranking country and they don’t show the cumulative total including those additional countries, which is undoubtedly larger than the number shown above.

The world map at the top of this post is the graphic that I see on the stats page. The darker the green, the more pageviews from that country. I can see different versions of that map for "now" (i.e. in the last two hours), "today", "this week", "this month" and "all time". They're updated each time I look at them.


A new wooden sculpture, in the style of a Totem Pole, has fetched up in Wigston's Peace Memorial Park. When Grace sees it on one of our frequent visits to the park, she says, "Oh cool; it's got the Groovy Girl sign on top!" Nice bit of brand appropriation - and there's the groovy girl herself.


A striking sight today, of two Jesus Army minibuses parked in Springfield Road to the side of London Road United Church, within sight of Bishop's Lodge, the residence of the Bishop of Leicester. Makes it sound like a rather sacred spot!

Also known as the Jesus Fellowship, this organisation has weekly meetings at three separate spots around Leicester. Their motto is "Jesus People, Loving People". Just about all of us could do with a bit more loving in our lives these days.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury: 
Delight as Riaz given honour
A charity working to strengthen interfaith relations has congratulated a member of staff who has received a major award from De Montfort University.
The director of St Philip's Centre, The Rev Canon Dr John Hall, expressed delight after Riaz Ravat, deputy director of the centre was honoured as Alumnus of the Year. He accepted the award at a graduation ceremony at Curve.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Caribbean Carnival: sunshine's on its way, whatever the weather
by Yasmin Duffin
Thousands of people will enjoy a sunburst of colour this weekend as Leicester's annual Caribbean Carnival takes place.
Entertainers, floats and bands will take to the streets for the 28th carnival tomorrow.
The parade will leave Victoria Park, in London Road, at 1pm and enter the city centre before returning to the park at 4pm.
Celebrations will be taking place from at the park from midday until 8pm.
Entertainment will be provided by dancers, music and other performers throughout the day.
Carnival chairman Dennis Christopher said: "The theme is Colour My World because we want to bring all races and religions together."The street carnival will be full of beautiful colours.
"People should expect different foods, music, dance – from all cultures.
"Visitors can meet old and new friends and just enjoy themselves."The meaning of carnival, is emancipation of slavery – when slaves were freed, they did their own thing and that's what it's all about."
Mr Christopher said this was an important year for the carnival because of Leicester's bid to be UK City of Culture in 2017.
He said he hoped the carnival would play a major part in securing the coveted title for Leicester.
The carnival route will see the procession travel from Victoria Park, along London Road, Waterloo Way, Charles Street, Gallowtree Gate, Granby Street, Northampton Street, Waterloo Way and up London Road back to Victoria Park.
The main stage at Victoria Park will feature a variety of local, regional and national artists, ranging from the sound of R 'n' B, reggae, hip-hop and chart pop.
Mr Christopher said: "There will be all kinds of different music played but the majority will be calypso, steel band and soca – the rest will fit in between.
"I'm looking forward to it, I'm just hoping for a safe carnival and I'm keeping my eye on the weather.
"We've already started planning the 2014 carnival."
Police have given carnival goers advice on how to stay safe and crime-free at the event.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Prior said: "Last year around 15,000 people attended the event at Victoria Park and no crimes were reported.
"However, as with all events which attract large crowds, there are some simple steps that we urge people to consider to reduce the risk of them becoming a victim of crime."
To prevent the probability of crime, officers have suggested keeping valuables out of sight; keeping belongings with you at all times; keeping bags fastened securely and not to carry too much cash.


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

An artist's impression of the three men accused of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old schoolgirl
Sex exploitation trial: three men plead guilty
The trial of three men accused of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old schoolgirl was dramatically stopped today, for guilty pleas to be entered.
Aabidali Mubarak Ali (39), Rakib Iacub (20) and Wajid Usman (22), admitted seven of the 22 counts they originally faced.
The prosecution accepted the guilty pleas to the lesser number of offences “in the public interest” and to spare the “vulnerable victim” the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
The girl, now 17, was due to go into the witness box at Leicester Crown Court this afternoon to be cross-examined by three defence advocates.
The prosecution claimed the defendants ignored her young age and paid, or offered to pay her, for sexual activity.
During the trial, the court heard the victim had voluntarily sold sexual services to friends to raise money because she wanted to leave home.
She admitted taking cannabis and drinking vodka to excess to “ease my sorrow.”
Whilst in that vulnerable state, she met Iacub at a Diwali festival last November, which led to the co-accused and three other men becoming sexually involved with her.
Judge Michael Pert QC discharged the jury from further involvement.
Ali, of Guthlaxton Street, Highfields, admitted two counts of paying for the sexual services of a child under 18 - at a guest house in Saxby Street, Highfields, and at a flat in Kashmir Road, St Matthews - as well one offence of facilitating child prostitution at the flat, between last November and January.
Iacub, of Maynard Road, Highfields, admitted offering to pay for the sexual services of a child under 18 and facilitating child prostitution, at the guest house.
He also admitted offering to pay the girl for a sexual encounter in a car at Leicester’s Watermead Park.
Usman, an illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, of no fixed address, admitted one count of paying for the sexual services of a child under 18, at a flat attached to the Mogul Durbar, restaurant in East Park Road, Spinney Hills.
Usman stayed at the flat for three or four weeks, whilst informally helping out at the restaurant – which was ransacked by members of the Sikh community, mainly from Derby, who were protesting about the perceived lack of police action in relation to the victim in this case, in January.
A group of 40 to 50 men burst in and attacked innocent members of staff, who had nothing to with the child exploitation allegations, causing customers to flee in terror.
The prosecutor, Matthew Lowe, said today: “Regarding the guilty pleas, the matter has been considered at a very high level within the CPS, the police force and there’s been consultation with the complainant and those who are looking after her interests.
“It avoids a damaged and fragile young women giving evidence and being asked questions.”
They will be sentenced on August 30, along with three other men, who have already admitted related charges involving the same victim.
They are Bharat Modhwadia (25), of Wycombe Road, Humberstone, Leicester, Hamza Imtiazali (25), of Kashmir Road, and Chandresh Mistry (37), of Berridge Lane, Belgrave, Leicester.
Afterwards, head of Leicestershire Police Safeguarding department, Det Superintendent David Sandall, said: “The victim supports the action that’s been taken today.
“It’s a relief for her, and her family, that she won’t have to re-live her ordeal and be cross-examined by three defence barristers“She was targeted because of her vulnerability and that’s why she was exploited.
“She’s had a wide range of support, including from her family and the police to prepare her for the trial.”
He said although the police were informed about exploitation relating to the girl, before the Moghul Durbar restaurant was ransacked, it was not until after that incident that she actually made “disclosures” about what had happened to her.
He said: “She was supported by third parties and we were victim-led and didn’t pressure her.
“Within three days of her telling us we’d made arrests.“
Det Supt Sandall said the suggestion, by the victim in her tape-recorded police interview, that other Sikh girls may have been exploited was “proactively investigated”.
He said: “People haven’t told us of any other victim, but we would encourage anyone to come forward.
“We’ve worked closely with social care, health services and schools as part of this investigation.”

Thursday, 1 August 2013


Diversity comes in many forms. I do like to get a bit of everything on the blog that reflects the varied experience in and around Leicester. I was taken by surprise by an open-air Kung Fu lesson outside the Royal British Legion club in Wigston. And for diversity-upon-diversity, yes, there's a white Rastaman in there. That's not me he's up against - perish the thought. It was a little bit frightening; those cats were fast as lightning!


At Leicester's medieval Guildhall this afternoon (the hottest day of the year so far) for a briefing for "key individuals and organisations" regarding the latest developments on the King Richard III Visitor Centre and its relation to Leicester's bid to become UK City of Culture 2017.

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby leads both parts of the meeting, with contributions from many of the attendees, representing interested parties from city and county.

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby & Nisha Popat (Business Development Manager, Leicester City Council)
Early in the meeting we break into small groups for a quick bit of workshopping, in which we consider three questions:
  • What are the opportunities for the city in general in relation to Richard III?
  • What are the opportunities for your organisation in relation to Richard III?
  • What opportunities could arise for your organisation from the Richard III Visitor Centre?

It's revealed for the first time today that the major themes around which the Richard II visitor experience will be structured are:
  • Death
  • Dynasty
  • Discovery

Since final planning approval is still pending for the Visitor Centre and eveyone is avoiding the temptation to count their chickens before they've hatched, the presentation today is more concept than content. But even that offers an inspiring glimpse of the benefits to come.

There's an exhibition of artist's impressions of the Visitor Centre that we can peruse at our leisure before and after the formal presentations. A few of us sneak into the temporary Richard III exhibition in the Cathedral Visitor Centre attached to the Guildhall. This exhibition welcomed its 100,000th visitor this week.

I'm glad to see Smita Shah here. Smita represents the Jain Centre on Leicester Council of Faiths, Since the Jain Centre is just a stone's throw from the site of the Visitor Centre, she publicly acknowledges that they expect a positive impact on the number and range of visitors they'll expect to receive once the Visitor Centre opens. I hope that the example of the Jain Centre will help other faith communities and organisations in the city feel involved in what has already become a great boon to Leicester - one which can only increase in years to come.


Manzoor Moghal has written the First Person column in today's Leicester Mercury:

A feast which follows a fast is not in spirit
The month of Ramadan is once again upon us and Muslims everywhere are fasting. It is obligatory for Muslims to fast during this month, as laid down in the Qu'ran, and they refrain from food, drink and tobacco from dawn to sunset, which at this time of year would be an average of 19 hours a day in Britain.
Before the advent of Islam, fasting was also prescribed for other religions but, with the passage of time, their fasting practices became truncated, distorted and were tailored to the convenience of their followers, with the result that the whole concept of fasting in these religions became totally corrupted.
In one of these religions, a whole month designated for fasting allows its people to eat and drink everything except cooked food and a few other items during the fasting period from morning to evening.In another religion where fasting stretches beyond 30 days, its adherents have to give up one item of their daily favourite food, while allowing them to eat and drink everything else at any time.
In yet another religion, two separate fasting days are extended to 24 hours of total refrain from any eating or drinking, and it has four other days which are somewhat similar to the Islamic way of fasting.
Other minor faiths have some variations, but none of these are anywhere near the Muslim way, which has remained in its pristine purity since its inception some 1,400 years ago.
However, there is a worrying trend which has recently crept into the Islamic way of fasting and it has begun to undermine both the spirit and the letter of fasting.
The time of breaking the Muslim fast at sunset is called iftar, and Muslims do this generally by eating a couple of dates and drinking tea or a glass of milk or water, followed by the fourth obligatory prayer of the day called maghrib.
After this, they disburse to their homes where they eat a modest meal before they go into the long night prayers at their mosques.
Unfortunately, the breaking of the fast time iftar is being turned into feasting by well-heeled Muslims – and it is becoming fashionable practice among many Muslims in some countries, including Britain.
Arab Muslims in the Middle East gorge themselves routinely with large quantities of food every evening after breaking their fast, and Muslims in places such as Pakistan have big iftar parties in restaurants, hotels and community centres.
Of late, a national Muslim organisation is encouraging Muslims in Britain to organise such iftar parties, inviting non-Muslims to participate in order to socialise and promote better understanding between different faiths.
The month of Ramadan is for fasting and not feasting!
Manzoor Moghal is an author and social commentator


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Doctor illegally circumcised dozens of boys
by David W Owen
A doctor has been ordered to pay more than £32,000 after admitting illegally circumcising dozens of young boys.
Dr Hassan Abdulla carried out the operations while working at the private Al-Khalill Clinic in Conway Road, Evington, Leicester, between October 2011 and January last year.
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard that although he was qualified to perform the procedures, he did so without being registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is required by law.
Dr Abdulla (62), of Scothern Lane, Sudbrook, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to five offences involving operations on individual boys when he appeared at court on Monday.
He also admitted to a charge relating to illegal surgery performed on a further 36 children.
He was fined £2,700 and ordered to pay over £30,000 in costs.
Carl May-Smith, prosecuting, told the court that healthcare services are required to be registered with the CQC so they can be “subject to regulation”.
He added it was important that people know whether such services “meet national standards of quality and safety”.
“Mr Abdullah should have known he needed to register, being a qualified health care professional with a duty to follow up on these matters,” he said.
Mr May-Smith said the CQC was alerted to Dr Abdulla’s illegal practice by members of the local community and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
In bringing the prosecution, the independent health regulator carried out two visits to Dr Abdulla’s Evington practice.
Mr May-Smith said that what was found would not have met the national standards of quality and safety.
“Infection control practices were inadequate, equipment being used was out of date and staff were not appropriately trained,” he said, adding that five of the children Dr Abdulla carried out the procedure on suffered complications and required further medical treatment.
The court heard that Dr Abdulla had provided circumcisions for children, mainly of parents adhering to the Islamic and Jewish faiths, since the NHS halted offering non-therapeutic surgery back in 2005.
He had not been required to register with the previous health regulator, the Health Commission, before it was replaced by the CQCin 2009.
Russell Davies, in mitigation, said Dr Abdulla had sought to register with the CQC in September 2011 but had been unaware that his initial application had been rejected.
He pleaded guilty to the six charges on the basis that he should have known he could not provide the service without being registered with CQC.
The court heard, however, that the CQC wrote to Dr Abdulla when his application was refused and spoke to him by telephone.
Mr Davies added: “With Dr Abdulla’s behaviour, the objective was not commercial gain.
“He is not only a man of good character but someone with a hitherto unblemished record.”
Dr Abdulla was fined £450 for each of the charges and ordered to pay £30,099.80 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Sentencing him, District Judge Timothy Daber said: “Without registration, the CQC had no power to regulate your practice, thereby putting patients at risk.”
Following the hearing, Fiona Allinson, compliance manager for the CQC, said: “This sends a clear message to any healthcare professionals that they not only need to ensure they are registered with CQC but we will take action against those who fail to do so.
“By not being registered, providers of care put people at risk as it is not possible for CQC to assess the quality of service being offered.”