Magistrate’s ‘fall from grace’

rossparry.co.uk'Picture shows Salima Hafejee, OBE a 44 year old Bradford magistrate who has pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud and one of theft in May and September, 2007, involving the Ali Academy, a Bradford charity for young people  which she was involved with.
rossparry.co.uk'Picture shows Salima Hafejee, OBE a 44 year old Bradford magistrate who has pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud and one of theft in May and September, 2007, involving the Ali Academy, a Bradford charity for young people which she was involved with.
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A FORMER magistrate has been stripped of her OBE but spared jail after being found guilty of defrauding a charity she was involved with.

Salima Hafejee, 45, of Whitechapel Road, Cleckheaton, was found guilty by a jury at Leeds Crown Court last month and was sentenced last week.

The case followed an investigation by police into a £992 grant from Bradford Council meant for the Ali Academy.

Hafejee, pictured, was a committee member of the charity when she was granted the OBE in 2009 and due to the police investigation she has never received it.

Prosecutor Nicholas Worsley said the money was meant to pay for a project called Respect Me Please, but was never completed. Under the terms of the grant, the money should have been paid back to the council.

However, Hafejee submitted an end of project report and forged the name of chairwoman Carmen Morris.

Mitigating, Imran Khan said the guilty verdict concluded ‘a spectacular fall from grace’ for the woman who received an OBE two years ago for her community work.

Hafejee had been a magistrate for a decade before police were made aware of the offence and she endured an aborted trial and a retrial where details were given about an affair with another magistrate who had founded the Ali Academy.

Mr Khan said that she had lost the trust and confidence of the community in which she served.

He added that Hafejee filed the report while under a great deal of pressure and the money was still in the bank account of the charity and the money would be paid back.

Jennifer Kershaw QC sentenced the mother-of-three to 28 days in prison, suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Kershaw said that Hafejee could have explained to the council that the work had not been completed instead of submitting the false claim.

Hafejee is expected to appeal.