In the Media

Wife exposed ex-Tory leader as a bigamist

PUBLISHED May 19, 2012

Pervez Chaudhry, 54, was caught out after his new bride Dr Zabina Shahian, in her mid 40s, became suspicious that his previous marriage may not have legally ended.

She discovered his secret past shortly after the pair married in a religious ceremony for close family in Kashmir, Pakistan in 2008.

Dr Shahian, a GP who lives and works in Birmingham, called in private detectives after one of Chaudhry's relatives suggested his marriage to Hameda Daulat was not annulled.

But Chaudhry, a former leader of the Conservative party on Slough Borough Council, claimed he was no longer married.

He claimed he was embroiled in a bitter custody battle with his first wife, who he married on April 7, 1986, over their three children. He showed his second wife divorce papers.

But Dr Shahian ended their relationship following her discovery. She suffered a miscarriage thought tohave been brought on by the stress.

Chaudhry, who was originally elected as a Labour candidate for the Central Ward but later defected to the Tories, admitted one count of bigamy at Reading Crown Court.

On Friday, Chaudhry, of Slough, Berks., was fined £750 and ordered to pay his second wife £4,000 in compensation.

The court earlier heard that after the ceremony in Pakistan on December 27, 2008, the couple's relationship deteriorated upon their return to Britain.

Their marriage appeared "doomed" and they continued to live "separate lives" after they met on an online dating site.

A short while later Dr Shahian became suspicious after an off the cuff remark from one of his relatives and called in a private detective agency.

His first wife had already told police about the allegations but an initial investigation stalled as he claimed the religious ceremony would not count as an official marriage and the couple had not continued with the civil proceedings.

Chaudhry had shown his future wife his divorce certificates and convinced her he was no longer legally married to his first wife.

But after the private detectives became involved and a new report was made to police by Dr Shavian it emerged the religious ceremony would qualify under Pakistani law as a wedding, therefore making Chaudhry a bigamist.

He was found to still be legally married to Mrs Daulat, despite their relationship turning sour.

Sentencing him yesterday Judge Ian Grainger had a simple message for the offence which had left a "serious blemish" on his character.

He said: "Bigamy is in no sense a private matter. The rule now, as in 1861, is a simple one - one spouse at a time.

Outside court Chaudhry remained defiant, insisting his first marriage was arranged when he was aged 11 and Mrs Daulat was a one-year-old baby. He called for the law to be changed.

In the summer of 2009 it was reported that Chaudhry had been lucky to escape a suicide bomb attack while on a humanitarian mission in Pakistan.

He stepped down from his post as Tory group leader in August last year and continued to serve the council as an independent until he lost his seat at this month's local elections.

Chaudhry said he would appeal. Dr Shahian declined to comment as did a spokesman for Slough Borough Council.