Born and raised in Lancashire, Sajjad attended school in Brierfield and went on to qualify as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1997. He set up his own succesful law practices and served on Pendle Borough Council, where he held several key chairmanships before stepping down in 2002.
He was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004, to serve the North West Region and was subseqently re-elected in 2009 and 2014.
In the European Parliament
In December 2009, Sajjad was appointed as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson for the Conservative Group in the European Parliament and was reappointed to this front bench position in June 2014 following the European Elections. As well as serving as a full member of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), Sajjad is and in was previously a substitute member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. He also currently Chairs the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee.
Sajjad has always championed the vital role played by the EU in developing and facilitating International trade between the EU and the wider world and has been a key player in the development of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement within the European Parliament.
In October 2011 Sajjad was appointed as the European Parliament rapporteur on a new report that will look at improving the law-making process across the EU and reduce the legislative burdon. Saj has ensured, through Parliament, that micro enterprises are now excluded from all new legislation unless the Commission can demonstrate it is of benefit. He is now working to extend this to include all SMEs and has since been appointed to author further reports on better law making Legislation.
In February 2012, Sajjad was one of five MEPs to be appointed to a panel to police the new code of conduct rules that will govern the behaviour of MEPs. He is the only British MEP to serve on this committee. The Advisory Committee provides guidance to MEPs and advises the Parliament’s President on what steps to take in the event of alleged breaches of the code. In February 2014 he was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Committee by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. He was reappointed in July 2014.
In 2013, Sajjad led in the European Parliament's drive to improve regulation by giving a greater say to member-state legislatures. The so-called 'red card' scheme allows national parliaments, such as the UK, to block unacceptable EU legislation and improve their ability to resist measures which interfere needlessly and unhelpfully. Parliaments can also wield a so-called “yellow card” to challenge unsuitable legislation – this allows then to ask the Commission to reconsider its proposals.
Sajjad formed and chairs the European Parliament’s Friends of Pakistan Group and in December 2013, eight years work came to fruition when the European Parliament voted to approve a vital concessionary trade status for Pakistan, known as 'GSP plus'. This preferential trade package for Pakistan's exports to EU countries came into force in January 2014 and is already boosting trade, economic development and will improve democracy and human rights issues.
After the European elections in 2014 Sajjad was selected as the European Conservative and Reformist Group Parliament Presidential candidate. The incumbent Martin Schultz retained his position as President with Sajjad coming second out of a total of four candidates after securing support from MEPs right across the Parliament.
In the North West
Sajjad made headline news in December 2012 when he played an instrumental role in securing the return of 6 year-old Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson to UK from Pakistan following abduction by her father. Over several weeks he worked closely with Greater Manchester Police and the Pakistani authorities and Atiya was returned safely to her mother during the Christmas holidays.
Sajjad continues to spend a considerable amount of his time working towards a reduction in EU regulations and red tape on businesses, particularly SMEs. He regulalry visits businesses across the constituency to see first-hand how the EU can help them improve and thrive.
Sajjad was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for the University of Technology and Management in Lahore for his work in securing the GSP+ deal and for services to the British Pakistani community.
In August 2014 Sajjad was awarded the Sitara-i-qaid-i-Azam, Pakistan's highest national honour to non-Pakistanis, for his services to strengthen Pakistan/UK and Pakistan/EU relations. He was one of only two people to receive the award in 2014. Karim was presented with the award in March 2015 by Pakistan President, Mamnoon Hussain, at a ceremony in Islamabad.
Sajjad is also Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI). Specifically, he is Chair of ARDI's Anti-Islamophobia Working Group, which discusses the root causes of and strategies aimed at overcoming discrimination against the Islamic community in Europe.
Sajjad campaigned for many years to have Islamophobia recognised and his hard work finally paid off when First Vice-President of the Commission Frans Timmermans recognised it as a serious issue at at the First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in 2015.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, the importance of Sajjad’s work in protecting human rights and fighting Islamophobia became apparent as European Muslims faced mounting challenges. He has voiced concern on issues ranging from the ECJ ruling on the right to wear the hijab in the workplace, to the hostile environments faced by Muslims in day to day life.
In 2018, Sajjad and ARDI made headlines as they challenged hate speech in the European Parliament itself, calling for the strongest measures to be taken against disgraceful comments by far-right MEP.
The importance of Sajjad’s work opposing hatred has only increased over recent years and he is proud to have openly fought against increasing intolerance in our societies.