Tuesday 2 September 2014

Labour suspends four members over Rotherham child abuse

The Labour Party have suspended four members in Rotherham over their part they played in the cover-up of the systematic abuse of 1,400 children over a 16 year period.

Three councillors - Roger Stone, Gwendoline Ann Russell and Shaukat Ali - have been suspended along with former councillor Jahangir Akhtar. The Labour Party says that the four will be investigated for the part they played in letting down the abused children. They have also said that the Police & Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, will have to apply to their NEC before he will be allowed to rejoin the Labour Party.

Jahangir Akhtar was investigated by the police last year over allegations that he knew about a relationship between a 14 year old girl in care and a known child abuser. He denied the allegations and the police cleared him of them. Does that case feature in the independent report into child abuse?

Roger Stone resigned as leader of Rotherham Borough Council when the damning report into child abuse came out. When Rotherham Social Services hit the headlines last year for taking two children off their foster parents because they were UKIP members, Roger Stone said "If the professionals give advice, we take it. We are going to investigate — we always would if somebody complains". Except the independent report into child abuse in Rotherham clearly shows that they don't take the advice and they don't investigate when someone complains. Quite the opposite in fact - they discredit the victims and cover up the abuse because they don't want to tell people that almost every child abuse allegation is against Pakistani and Kashmiri men.

Gwendoline Russel and Shaukat Ali were present at a meeting of Rotherham Borough Council in 2008 when sexual exploitation of children was discussed. The report (page 33) said that the council had been contacted 118 times in 2007/08 expressing concerns about child sexual exploitation. The action plan shows that the council was well aware of sexual exploitation of children.

There is more to this Rotherham case than meets the eye. The scale of the abuse, the minutes of council meetings showing they were aware of the abuse happening, the botched police investigations. It all points to more than incompetence and fear of accusations of racism. I think that in time we will find that some people at Rotherham Borough Council - councillors or officers or both - have done more than turn a blind eye.