I'm just on the verge of nipping out for the evening, so I don't have much to add at this juncture to the coverage of Nicola Sturgeon and her letter to Sheriff Alan MacKenzie concerning the sentencing of Abdul Rauf on charges of fraud. (Prize for best headline of the day goes to Big Rab by a country mile, who brought us 'Rauf Justice?') Being familiar with the tendency of political scandals rapidly to loose their fetters and roar hastily into the middle distance, I wanted to play host to a complete copy of the letter as Sturgeon sent it, lest we forget what was written and spend our time exchanging abstract generalities about conduct which did not happen or attempting to build up our political biceps by knocking the stuffing out of straw men...
MR ABDUL RAUF
I refer to my above named constituent and the case brought against him for benefit fraud.
I have been aware of Mr Rauf’s case since July 2008 when he sought assistance from me after a search warrant was executed at his home by the Department of Work and Pensions and officers from Strathclyde Police. It was clear at that time that he recognised the serious nature of the matter he was facing and that it would be necessary to pay back the money he had obtained unlawfully.
For a number of years Mr Rauf has suffered from poor health mainly associated with his heart; he has a family, including young children aged under ten; and he is heavily involved in his community. All of these aspects of his life have been significantly impacted upon by the mistake he has made.
Mr Rauf has accepted his wrongdoing and has experienced the consequences of it through the effort on his health, the distress caused to his family and the impact on his standing in his community. He has advised me that he has already paid £27,000 of the outstanding balance owed to the Department of Work and Pensions and has said, since he first sought my advice, that he will sell his interest in his property in Edinburgh to settle the remaining balance.
He and his wife are anxious that a custodial sentence may be imposed by the court and of the further effect on Mr Rauf’s health and the impact on family life. I would appeal to the court to take the points raised here into account and consider alternatives to a custodial sentence.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Member for Glasgow Govan