Health bosses are to decide tonight on whether to sack former South Yorkshire Police chief constable Meredydd Hughes from his role at Sheffield Children’s Hospital after he denied knowing about the scale of child abuse in Rotherham.
Meredydd Hughes, who was chief constable of the force between 2004 and 2011, told MPs on the Home Affairs select committee in September he had ‘failed the victims’ and had ‘no idea of the scale and scope’ of child sexual exploitation in the town.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said at the time that Mr Hughes’ denials about his knowledge of Rotherham’s problems were ‘impossible to believe’ and there were ‘serious questions to be asked’ of his conduct.
It has now emerged Mr Hughes has currently stepped down from his responsibilities as a non-executive director of Sheffield Children’s Hospital. His first term of office is due to come to an end on March 31 next year.
The Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust website says ‘presently, Meredydd Hughes has voluntarily stepped away from his responsibilities as a non-executive director of the trust’.
He had been a member of several trust committees, including those looking into clinical governance, finance and resources and remuneration.
Mr Hughes was appointed to the NHS board in April 2012.
A statement from the trust said Mr Hughes had taken the decision to step down for the time being following discussions with chairman Nicholas Jeffrey.
His future on the board will now be formally reviewed by its council of governors at a meeting tonight. Among the options due to be discussed are ending his association with the trust with immediate effect or not renewing his term of office beyond March.
A trust spokesman said: “Meredydd has been a non-executive director for the last two-and-a-half years. His term of office runs until March 2015.
“Med was also Chief Constable at South Yorkshire Police from 2004 to 2011, so has been giving evidence to the Rotherham enquiries.
“The matter has been discussed by the chairman of the trust and Mr Hughes. As a result of these discussions, Mr Hughes has voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities as a Non-Executive Director whilst the situation is formally reviewed.
“Further investigations into what happened in Rotherham are being conducted by other agencies. Our Council of Governors – whose remit includes the appointment of Non-Executive Directors - will be formally reviewing the matter at their next meeting.”
Mr Hughes now runs a number of consultancy companies and is director and executive chairman of non-profit company Road Safety Support, which provides specialist services to police forces and councils.
At the select committee hearing Mr Hughes said he had not been aware of three reports made in the early to mid-2000s about the town’s grooming problems, and had ‘felt sick’ when he had read them following the publication of the Jay report.
Mr Hughes said: “I am not immune to the ideas that this is a hideous crime and I am deeply embarrassed.
“But I can say with honesty that at the time that I was both deputy and chief constable, I had no idea of the scale and scope of this type of organised crime.
“This is not something I would have turned a blind eye to, nor something I would have wilfully ignored.
“With respect to the evidence you have been given, those who know me personally know I would not turn a blind eye or cover up incidents of child abuse.
“I take no pleasure from this. I have had a 32-year police career, and yet on this issue I have failed the victims of these criminals and it hurts.
“It is something that I loathe.”