A former Tory council leader, who took a secret second wife after being forced to marry his first cousin, has escaped jail despite being convicted of bigamy.
Pervez Choudhry, the former leader of Slough Borough Council’s Conservative Party, was caught out when his second wife Dr Zabina Shahian hired a private detective to investigate him after a flippant remark from a relative aroused her suspicions.
Dr Shahian, a GP, discovered that when Choudhry married her in Pakistan in December 2010 he had already been legally married to his cousin Hameda Daulat since April 1986.
The career politician, 54, had told Dr Shahian about his first wife, but had convinced her that he was no longer married by showing her court papers relating to custody hearings regarding their children, the court heard.
When the Birmingham-based family doctor discovered the deception, she ended their relationship and during the troubled period that followed even suffered a miscarriage.
The disgraced politician was yesterday handed a £750 fine and ordered to pay £4,000 compensation to Dr Shahian.
However, speaking outside Reading Crown Court yesterday, Choudhry remained defiant, claiming he had been forced to get engaged to his first wife, his cousin, when he was aged just 11, and his future wife was just a baby.
The marriage only went ahead, he claimed, because of the dying wish of his mother and he was unhappy, despite the best efforts of his partner.
He said: ‘We kept the first marriage for our children because there’s a stigma attached to families that divorce but we went our separate ways.'
After being introduced to Dr Shahian by family friends, ‘within hours’, he claimed, ‘she had made up her mind that I was the person she was waiting for.'
He added: ‘This has brought up one thing - this is always going to be a problem being a Muslim. I cannot sleep with anybody without getting married.
‘I’m in between a rock and a hard place.’
He added: ‘The law of the land is outdated and it needs to change. Today everything is bigamy.’
Judge Ian Grainger said: ‘You have served your community well, in particular as a councillor and at one stage as leader of the Conservative Group.
‘This offence is a serious blemish on that character.
‘Bigamy is in no sense a private matter. The rule now, as in 1861, is a simple one - one spouse at a time.
‘Whatever cultural roots that rule may have, there’s practical wisdom in that rule.’
Dr Shahian called in a private detective agency following a flippant remark from one of his relatives.
His first wife had already informed police, but an initial police investigation stalled as he claimed the religious ceremony would not count as an official marriage.
It was not until Dr Shahian reported him to the police that it emerged the religious ceremony would qualify under Pakistani law as a wedding, therefore making the Tory politician a bigamist.
Dr Shahian said that the marriage had ruined her life.
She said: ‘It’s really affected me. I’ve been at a standstill. He showed me divorce certificates and when you meet someone you take them at face value.
‘When I finished with him, after I found out, he made my life miserable. All I wanted was justice. I was devastated.’
The 54-year-old stepped down from his post as Conservative leader in August last year following orders from Conservative Party Central Office in London.
He initially continued to stand as an independent candidate until he was booted out by voters in the local elections earlier this month.
Mr Chaudry said he had lodged an appeal at the High Court against his conviction, having only pleaded guilty following a ruling by the judge on the validity of the marriage in Pakistan.