SLOUGH'S mayor has dramatically resigned today after he attended a court sentencing to support the family of a convicted sex offender.

Slough Borough Council today announced the resignation of the Mayor of Slough, Councillor Shafiq Chaudhry.

The resignation, effective immediately, is from his role as mayor though he remains a councillor.

Cllr Chaudhry attended a sentencing hearing on Monday at Reading Crown Court where two men were jailed for six and two years respectively following an investigation into child sexual exploitation.

Esmatullah Haidaree, 46, of Farm Crescent, Slough, and Azim Ahmed, 23, of Diamond Road, Slough, were jailed for two years and six years respectively.

Cllr Chaudhry was there in support of the Ahmed family. He was referred to in court as a friend of the family.

Councillor Chaudhry, who has also voluntarily referred himself to the council’s standards board, said: “I attended the court to support a family torn apart by one man’s horrendous crimes.

“I now realise that, despite my good intent for the family who are residents of Slough and my ward, my actions could be construed as me supporting a convicted criminal.

“To not recognise those potential consequences was a grievous error of judgement which has brought my position as Mayor into disrepute.

“I do not in any way condone the behaviour of those convicted of these horrendous offences; criminals are criminals, no matter who they are and no one should tolerate this kind of crime.

“The public expect the highest levels of judgement from those in public life, especially the Mayor and, as such, I feel I cannot continue in the role.

“I apologise for any embarrassment this has caused and for any upset to the victims.” Cllr Wal Chahal, leader of the Slough Conservative Group, said: “The intention was good, but somebody in his office needs to be a bit more careful, especially with the ongoing campaign to tackle child sexual exploitation.

“I personally have a lot of time for Cllr Chaudry, I believe he has been a good mayor and I applaud his integrity in stepping down.” Councillor Rob Anderson, leader of the council, accepted the resignation immediately. He said: “Cllr Chaudhry made a serious error at a time when both the council and police are focusing resources on tracking the perpetrators of CSE and bringing them to justice.

“By standing down as mayor immediately and referring himself to standards, Councillor Chaudhry has shown he is a man of principle and understands the mistake that, however well intentioned, he made.” Cllr Mohammed Rasib, current deputy mayor of Slough will take over mayoral duties until the election of a new mayor in May. Cllr Rasib will however not take on the title of mayor.

This is the Observer's story from the sentencing: