Three members of a Rochdale grooming gang face possible deportation to Pakistan after Court of Appeal judges upheld a decision to strip them of their British citizenship.
Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men jailed in May 2012 after being found guilty of grooming and sexual exploiting a number of young girls.
In some cases the girls, aged in their early teens, were raped and pimped out to paying customers in Rochdale and Oldham.
Aziz, Khan and Rauf were informed by the Home Office in 2015 that they would be stripped of their British citizenship – which may eventually lead to their deportation.
They each challenged the decision, arguing it amounted to a breach of their human rights, but their cases were rejected by both the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) and the Upper Tribunal.
The FTT said it had “no hesitation” in finding that, given the “grave nature” of their crimes, the consequences to the men and their families did not outweigh the public interest in depriving them of their citizenship.
The men took their case to the Court of Appeal and represented themselves before three senior judges at a hearing in July, during which Adil Khan said he was innocent of any crime.
They argued that the previous tribunals did not take enough account of the fact they may be deported as a result of the decision to remove their citizenship.
But, rejecting their appeals, Lord Justice Sales and two other judges ruled on Wednesday that the tribunals made a “proper and lawful assessment” of the likelihood of deportation.
The judge said: “Given the extremely serious nature of the offending by each appellant, there is no good ground for calling that conclusion into question.
“There was no error of law by the FTT.”
All three men, from Rochdale, were found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and trafficking for sexual exploitation following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Aziz, of Armstrong Hurst Close, who was one of the ringleaders of the grooming gang and referred to by some of the others as The Master, was jailed for nine years.
Married father-of-five Abdul Rauf, of Darley Road, was jailed for six years and Khan, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, for eight years.
Outlining their offending, Lord Justice Sales said: “All the men treated the girls as though they were worthless and beyond all respect.
“They were motivated by lust and greed.”
The judge said that, in the event the Home Office does decide to deport the men, they will each have the right to appeal and will be “entitled” to argue that deportation would infringe their human rights and those of their family members.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “This was an appalling case – which is why we took action to deprive these criminals of their UK citizenship.
“We welcome the court’s finding and will now consider next steps.
“Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, and it is right that the Home Secretary can deprive an individual of their citizenship where it is believed it is conducive to the public good to do so.”