Disgraced lawyer Nisa Ul Haq has vanished - hours before she was to be sentenced for people trafficking crimes.
Now a judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Huddersfield legal executive who failed to turn up for sentencing at Leeds Crown Court .
And the judge has remanded in custody two other people who were due in the dock with Ul Haq.
Ul Haq, 40, was due to attend court this afternoon along with three other defendants who were present, one of them her sister Hajrah Safraz, but the court was told Ul Haq had breached her tagged curfew on Tuesday night.
Judge Guy Kearl QC heard the curfew should have begun each night for Ul Haq at 9pm at an address in Victoria Road, Lockwood, but checks showed the breach that night.
Adam Kane QC, representing Ul Haq, said solicitors had spoken to her by telephone on Tuesday and she had given instructions which meant they expected her at court.
A surety had tried to contact the defendant earlier on Wednesday before the afternoon sentencing time without success. Solicitors were getting no answer to her mobile number.
Judge Kearl issued the bench warrant for her arrest. He said because of Ul Haq’s central role in the conspiracy it would not be right to sentence the others in her absence and adjourned the sentence until early next year.
He remanded Hajrah Safraz, 38 and her husband Mohammed Safraz, 36, both of Victoria Road, Lockwood , in custody after revoking their bail saying they had been granted bail after conviction to get their affairs in order and having done so had expected to be sentenced and would now remain in custody.
Ul Haq and her sister and brother-in-law were convicted by a jury earlier this month of conspiracy to traffic people into the UK for exploitation. Ul Haq was also found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration and with another defendant Mohammed Javad Iqbal of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice.
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The jury heard during the trial that Pakistani clothing workers were brought to Huddersfield with the promise of well paid jobs at a tailors and were then exploited.
Several sold up all they had to pay thousands of pounds in arrangement fees to Nisa Ul Haq and her accomplices, only to find they got a fraction of what they were promised when they got to Yorkshire, and were regularly forced to pay money back in the form of taxes.
Some were even charged £50 for sick notes if they were off work and were told they would be reported to the immigration authorities so they would be sent back if they complained.
The jury heard Ul Haq, a qualified legal executive was at the centre of the conspiracy with the trafficking achieved through the use of three companies in the Huddersfield area.
Applications were made for a total of 26 tailors with salaries between £15,000-£19,000, not all were granted but a number of workers who did arrive “were paid only a fraction of that promised or were forced to repay the wages paid.”
Iqbal, 58, of George Avenue, Birkby, who was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice with UL Haq after he allegedly approached a witness on her instructions with the intention of influencing or intimidating them, had his bail continued until sentence. He appeared in court in a wheelchair.