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Rediff.com  » News » Row over NRI sex offender on Queen's royal barge

Row over NRI sex offender on Queen's royal barge

Last updated on: June 07, 2012 17:08 IST

The presence of an Indian origin man on the royal barge with Queen Elizabeth during Sunday's pageant on River Thames has raised a storm after it was revealed that he had been previously convicted and jailed for sex offences.

Questions have been raised over security vetting of individuals who were invited to the royal barge to witness the Diamond Jubilee pageant.

Selected high profile individuals were present on the barge, besides members of the royal family. Harbinder Singh Rana, 52, who was jailed in the 1980s for posing as a doctor before women and performing internal examinations and administering injections, was present on the barge, apparently at the invitation extended by Prince Charles.

Rana is the 'Honorary Director' of Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, a charity organisation whose aim is to promote "a greater awareness of the shared heritage between Sikhs and Britain".

He reportedly accompanied Prince Charles during a visit to India in 2006.

The tabloid press on Thursday went to town, highlighting Rana's presence on the royal barge, and questioning the Metropolitan police about vetting guests before allowing them on to the royal barge and in proximity to the royal family.

A spokesperson for Prince Charles confirmed that the prince was not aware of Rana's convictions. She said, "Harbinder Singh was asked to take part in the pageant as he is a leading member of the Sikh community and someone who has done a lot of charitable work.

"Guests of the Pageant including  representatives from all major faith communities, spread across a number of key vessels -- as with the Royal Family, who were present on a number of vessels".

Asked whether he had been vetted, Rana, who lives in Walsall, West Midlands, told The Mirror: "I don't know what checks they do or how they do them".

He said he had never "had to tell anybody" of his sex crimes and was never asked about them before the event. Rana said: "I was given the invitation and I attended. The fact that the Prince of Wales invited me clearly shows what I have done for the community since then".

He said of his conviction, "It was very circumstantial. It is an area I have switched off from my life and got on with it."

He added, "I have a relationship with some of Charles's staff, not him -- although I have met him at events, yes. I have made it clear I wasn't representing the Sikh community, I

was there because I was very happy to be invited".

He said that, although the Queen was at times just "a few feet" from him, he never spoke to her or any senior member of the Royal Family while on the boat.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said those travelling on the royal barge would have been security vetted, and added, "The purpose of a security check is to assess the threat to members of the Royal Family and other protected persons".

In 2002, a section of Britain's Sikh community had opposed his nomination as a government adviser on the Inner Cities Religious Council. Rana was reportedly found guilty of five counts of indecent assault, 11 counts of assault causing actual bodily

harm and one count of attempted assault in August 1986.
Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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