"The terms of Juror B’s note are disgraceful."
After TikTok influencer Mahek Bukhari and seven others were jailed for murdering two men, the reason why the first trial was halted by the judge in 2022 can now be revealed.
It was reported that in the final week of that first trial, there was a “heated” argument in the jury room, with one juror accusing another of being racist.
The two jurors were asked to explain the argument.
One woman said she had been shocked by the other’s racist views about incest and sinister “connections” between the Asian and Middle Eastern defendants.
The second juror wrote a note that confirmed they were unfit to continue as a juror.
It was also decided that dismissing the one racist juror would not be enough, due to suggestions in their note that other jurors also agreed with the “shocking” racist views they held.
A statement issued in early December 2022 by Mr Justice Saini explaining why the trial was halted can now be reported.
It read: “The trial began in early October 2022 and is now in its closing stages.
“During a mid-morning break, I received a message from an usher that there was a heated verbal altercation taking place between two jurors.
“I asked that they be separated from one another and that they each send me a note of their concerns. I was informed that Juror B was very upset about being ‘called out’ as a ‘racist’ by Juror A.
“Juror B’s note is an explanation of why she was upset about being accused of being racist.
“However, the contents of Juror B’s note, no doubt intended to defend that juror’s actions and explain why they were upset, revealed matters of serious concern as to whether Juror B and others within the panel were faithfully adhering to their oaths and affirmations.
“The terms of Juror B’s note are disgraceful. Juror B’s views, and those potentially of other jurors, who appear to have been a party to discussions with Juror B, have no place in British society in 2022.
“They are even more shocking when one considers they may represent views of those from such a richly diverse community as Leicester and its surrounding areas, from which the jury was drawn.”
The judge went on to say that Juror B had “racist attitudes towards Asians on that Juror’s part and potentially on the part of those of other jurors who appear to have been party to discussions with Juror B”.
He continued: “Juror B’s note suggests to me that this individual may subscribe to highly negative stereotypes of Asians and seems to have been party to bizarre suggestions, never in issue in this case, of the defendants ‘all committing incest’, of the defendants sleeping with one another, and of having not disclosed this in their evidence.
“The reference to it is pure prejudice based on what I can only regard as racist assumptions about those of Asian heritage.
“What is more worrying is that Juror B and others also appear to have engaged in wild speculation of some undisclosed ‘connections within the group of defendants and others outside of the group’.
“Again, this is suggestive of some sinister non-disclosed connections importing wrongdoing.”
Mr Justice Saini said it was “hard to see” how Juror B and others could “faithfully try the defendants and give true verdicts according to the evidence” as they swore or affirmed they would do at the start of the trial.
After ordering a retrial, the members of the second jury were all vaguely asked if they felt there were any reasons why they could not come to fair verdicts in the second trial and all said there weren’t any such reasons.
The second trial began on April 15, 2023.
It concluded on August 4, 2023, with Mahek Bukhari found guilty of murder.
Her mother Ansreen Bukhari, Raees Jamal and Rekan Karwan were also convicted of murder.
Natasha Akhtar, Sanaf Gulamustafa and Ameer Jamal were all found guilty of manslaughter.
On September 1, 2023, Mahek Bukhari was sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 31 years and eight months.
Raees Jamal received a life sentence and must serve a minimum of 36 years.
Both Ansreen Bukhari and Rekan Karwan will serve a minimum of 27 years in prison.
Ameer Jamal was jailed for 14 years and eight months.
Sanaf Gulamustafa was sentenced to 14 years and nine months.
Natasha Akhtar was jailed for 11 years and eight months.