Since the scheme launched, almost 1,500 e-petitions have been created, of which only six have crossed the threshold.

The vast majority of e-petitions have failed to secure even 100 signatures. Even matters of significant public interest such as increasing policing have only obtained around 20,000 signatures. This suggests that it is only those matters which the public are really concerned about that are crossing the threshold, and which should be debated.

My e-petition gained over 140,800 signatures in three months. It called for my son Babar Ahmad, a British citizen, to be put on trial in the UK. Babar has spent over seven years in prison without trial. Engel refused to list my petition for a full debate in the Commons on the basis that there was not enough time. On the same day, she listed for debate an e-petition to reduce immigration which secured 20,000 fewer votes and which was run by the Daily Mail.

I had no national newspaper behind me and those who promoted the petition utilised many methods of obtaining support, such as collecting signatures on the streets and even going door-to-door. The reputation of British democracy, already tainted by the imprisonment without trial of a British citizen, will only be further damaged by refusing to address the concerns of almost 141,000 people who dare to say this is wrong.

Ashfaq Ahmad

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