A CHILD sex offences suspect who battled a five-year campaign to keep his identity a secret can finally be named, top judges have ruled.

Oxford landlord Tariq Khuja took his fight for anonymity all the way to the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land – after he was arrested by detectives investigating a paedophile sex ring in the city in 2012.

The millionaire businessman was named by a witness in a grooming trial the following year but has always vehemently denied any involvement in exploiting children.

A former magistrate, he was later released without charge but judges said yesterday that the case remained under review and Thames Valley Police invesitgations are continuing.

The Oxford Mail can now reveal Mr Khuja has lost his court battle to stop his name being linked to Operation Bullfinch – a major police investigation into child grooming and prostitution in Oxford.

By a majority of five to two, Supreme Court justices ruled Mr Khuja, referred to as PNM during proceedings, could not use privacy laws to ban him being named.

Handing down the judgment yesterday, Lord Sumption said Mr Khuja was a ‘prominent figure’ in Oxford and recognised there was a ‘real risk’ he could be deemed guilty, despite never being charged and there being ‘no present reason’ to believe he will be.

He added: “PNM’s application is to prohibit the reporting, however fair or accurate, of certain matters which were discussed at a public trial. These are not matters in respect of which PNM can have had any reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Mr Khuja, who rented property to social services in Oxfordshire, was arrested in dawn raids on March 22, 2012, on suspicion of sex offences against children.

His lawyers obtained court orders the next day to gag the Oxford Mail from reporting a High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court hearing, brought by Thames Valley Police concerning Mr Khuja’s property.

District Judge Andrew Vickers ordered Mr Khuja must remain anonymous unless charged, with the hearing being held in camera – excluding reporters and the public.

The judge’s decision to hold the hearing in secret came after police claimed press reports could hamper its investigation, with the judge agreeing the force’s inquiries might be jeopardised.

Mr Khuja’s lawyers then obtained a further court order during the 18-week trial of a gang of Oxford men charged as part of Operation Bullfinch at London’s Central Criminal Court.

It blocked the Oxford Mail from revealing one of the gang’s victims had branded a man, with the same forename as Mr Khuja, as one of her abusers.

Known as Girl 1, she told jurors she was given pink bubbly and cocaine by ‘Tariq’, who she spotted with ‘big wads of cash’.

But the abuse victim did not know his surname and failed to pick him out of a video identification parade.

Both the the prosecution and defence referred to him using his full name on the basis he had been accused although he was not charged or a defendant in the trial.

He was also referred to during cross-examination, closing speeches and in Judge Peter Rook QC’s summing up.

The Bullfinch trial ended with seven men being jailed for a minimum of 95 years on June 27, 2013, for their roles in the ring which groomed, drugged, raped and prostituted six young girls between 2004 and 2011.

Mr Khuja’s lawyers said he had nothing to do with the offences but argued the public might mistakenly believe he was the perpetrator once news of his arrest emerged.

Lawyers also claimed the evidence would prejudice any potential future trial against Mr Khuja, who is believed to own hundreds of properties across Oxford.

The property developer was kept on police bail until July 25, 2013, when officers admitted they had insufficient evidence to charge him, but prosecutors told the Central Criminal Court Mr Khuja would remain under investigation for child sex offences.

His lawyers then argued news of his arrest should remain banned, claiming press reports would be an unwarranted intrusion into his privacy and would cause damage to his family.

The Oxford Mail successfully urged Judge Rook to lift the order after Mr Khuja was released without charge, but his lawyers took their case to the High Court before a judgment was handed down.

In the High Court, lawyers applied for an interim non-disclosure order to ban reporting of his arrest but it was refused on October 22, 2013.

Lawyers then took their case to the Court of Appeal but judges dismissed the appeal the following year.

But he continued his campaign for anonymity, taking his case to the Supreme Court in January where lawyers argued the Court of Appeal was wrong to allow the media to identify him.

The appeal was finally rejected by Supreme Court justices, who yesterday declared the Oxford Mail and The Times, which also fought the case, cannot be silenced and Mr Khuja must not remain anonymous.


SENIOR associate Alex Cochrane, of Collyer Bristow LLP, said: “While naturally very disappointed by the majority judgment of the Supreme Court, my client is nonetheless gratified by the strong and supportive dissenting judgment of Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson.

“My client has always maintained his innocence and he continues to believe that, save in exceptional cases, people who are facing criminal allegations should not be named publicly unless and until charged. 

“My client was arrested as long ago as 2012 and he has never been charged with – let alone convicted of – any offence.

“In fact, in July 2013, Thames Valley Police took the step of informing him that he had been “de-arrested”, since when no further action has been taken against him.

“​My client will not be providing any further comment and would ask the media to respect his privacy and that of his family.”