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'Trip of lifetime' – operator guilty

Pilgrims arriving from Hajj at London Heathrow - Nov 2011
Pilgrims arriving from Hajj at London Heathrow – Nov 2011

[important]The CBH has issuesd a stark warning to unscrupulous Tour Operators following 2 very high profile convictions of company directors who have mis-treated pilgrims.  Yasin Ahmed – Operations Director at CBHUK said “Let the case in Birmingham last year and the recent one in Slough act as a detterent for those seeking to make a quick buck by offering for Hajj & Umrah packages and then not delivering their promises”[/important]


AN Alim tour operator who left vulnerable and elderly pilgrims sleeping in cockroach infested rooms after promising four-star treatment has been found guilty of unfair trading.

Qari Mohammed Nawaz, of Hazelmere Road, Slough, charged 47 pilgrims £2,500 for a trip of a lifetime to Mecca after promoting his Hajj Pilgrimage Package at the Diamond Road mosque.

The 59-year-old promised customers an all-inclusive package with four-star hotels, air-conditioned transport, direct flights and an English speaking tour guide.

However, unable to obtain the visas needed to get into Saudi Arabia, he outsourced the trip to tour operator, Hijaz Travel in Ilford, at a cost of £2,100 per person, and called travellers the night before telling them to pack their bags and be at Heathrow early the next morning. At the airport, the pilgrims discovered their flight was not direct and the passengers were left without food or water as they waited for their connecting flight in Istanbul for several hours.

When they arrived, they were checked into overcrowded rooms, some with less than an inch between beds, cockroaches and no tour guide and Nawaz, who had also made the trip with his son, was no where to be seen.

He pleaded guilty to 11 offences, eight under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and three offences under the Package Travel, Package Holidays, and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

On Friday last week, the judge sitting at Reading Crown Court ordered he must not serve as a company director, secretary or be the controlling mind of a company for five years.

He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to each of the complainants that paid full price for the trip, as well as pay costs of £8,000 to Slough Borough Council, by the end of June.

Angela Satterly, senior technical enforcement officer for Slough Borough Council, said: “This was a terrible case where people, who trusted someone in a position of authority and status, were completely ripped off. Many of those who went to make the once in a lifetime trip were elderly and vulnerable, but were treated appallingly.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and hope it sends out a strong message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

This article appeared in Slough Observer 14 Mar 12

Source: Slough Observer