Corrupt officer 'helped gangster brother'

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The Independent Online

A corrupt police officer helped his drug gang "enforcer" brother by hiding a cache of weapons and intimidating witnesses, it can be reported today.

Salim Razaq, 33, a Lancashire Police sergeant, had three machine guns, bundles of ammunition and more than £70,000 of laundered cash hidden at his home.

Razaq was caught when he plotted to help his brother Hafiz, known as "The Enforcer" and "Big Haf", escape prosecution for his role in a violent turf war between drugs gangs in Preston.

He pleaded guilty last month to perverting the course of justice, possession of firearms and ammunition as well as misconduct in a public office.

Today, Judge Henry Globe QC, at Liverpool Crown Court, lifted reporting restrictions on Razaq's crimes after he was cleared of mortgage fraud in separate proceedings.

Police bugged phone calls that Hafiz, 25, made from prison to his brother while awaiting trial for kidnapping and beating up a rival as part of a drug-related "turf war".

The pair were overheard discussing their money laundering and witness intimidation plans.

Lancashire Police's Professional Standards Department swooped on the sergeant's home in Chorley Road, Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, in March and found a Sten machine gun and two Uzi machine guns hidden under the stairs.

They also seized 228 bullets stashed in socks and plastic bags under the garden shed, a bullet-proof jacket and a balaclava in the loft, and a knuckle duster in the garage.

The cash totalling £72,000 was found in Salim's bedroom.

Razaq joined Lancashire Constabulary in March 2001 as an emergency response officer and worked his way up to the rank of sergeant, covering the town of Nelson, in January 2009.

He was sacked by Lancashire Police in June after the force implemented a rarely-used Special Case Hearing procedure to fast-track his dismissal.

Razaq pleaded guilty last month to misconduct in a public office, two charges of perverting the course of justice, three charges of possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, and also conspiracy to transfer criminal property and conspiracy to acquire or retain criminal property.

He was also accused, in today's proceedings, of inflating his £33,000-a-year police salary to obtain a mortgage but Judge Globe ruled that Razaq did not break the law and ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.

Shaven-headed Razaq, dressed in a smart blue suit and grey tie, was remanded in custody until sentencing on November 11.

Bearded gangster Hafiz, who was not present at today's hearing, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of perverting the course of justice.

He is already serving six years in prison for kidnapping and beating up a rival as part of a "turf war".

The gang bundled their victim, Mohammed Beg, into the back of a van and beat him for three hours before dumping him, unconscious, near a playground.

Hafiz was sentenced at Preston Crown Court for his part in the attack in July last year.

In the lead-up to that trial, both Salim and Hafiz Razaq attempted to prevent a key witness, a taxi driver who collected and dropped off members of the gang, from giving evidence in the trial.

The plot foundered when police listened in on the brothers' prison conversations and swooped on Salim.

Speaking outside court, Andy Cooke, Assistant Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, said: "Salim Razaq was nothing short of a criminal in a police uniform and I am appalled by the fact that a police officer was involved at the level he was in this criminality.

"However, I am extremely proud of the Lancashire officers who put this case together, the quality of which is reflected in the guilty pleas.

"I am sure that the sentences will reflect the seriousness of these crimes.

"We are resolute in our commitment to root out any bad apples that fail to maintain the high standards of professional behaviour and integrity which the vast majority of our staff adhere to.

"Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the people of Lancashire trust their police service and understand that we will focus on their needs and priorities."

Gulshan Razaq, 58, the mother of Salim and Hafiz, also admitted last month to perverting the course of justice by intimidating witnesses in the Preston trial.

And gang members Jason Lawrenson, 26, of HMP Preston, and Daniel Cookson, 25, of Yewtree Avenue, Ribbleton, admitted money laundering.

Louis Bamber, 22, of HMP Liverpool, admitted possession of a firearm.

All will be sentenced along with the former police officer on November 11.