Probe into stolen Rotherham child abuse files allegations ‘months from publication’

Rotherham Council headquarters Riverside House
Rotherham Council headquarters Riverside House
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An investigation into the alleged theft of key Rotherham child abuse files in 2002 is yet to be completed – despite being ordered more than a year ago.

Private investigators were called in by Rotherham Council to conduct a professional malpractice probe to ‘corroborate’ internal council inquiries into the incident, which was raised with MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee in September 2014.

The theft of files relating to child sexual exploitation belonging to researcher Adele Gladman is said to have taken place in the offices of the Risky Business youth outreach project in April 2002.

Rotherham Council has said the investigation, which is being assisted by Nottingham-based firm Insight Investigations, is ‘ongoing’.

It is expected the results will be published in the next few months.

A Rotherham Council spokesman said: “The council commissioned an investigation following allegations that files had been removed from the former Risky Business office.

“This investigation is ongoing, and we are unable to comment further at this stage.

“It will be verified by an external company, and will be published in due course.”

Ms Gladman had been working on a Home Office-funded project on child sexual exploitation in the town.

She had emailed some of her initial findings to officials, including concerns about how cases were being dealt with by Rotherham Council managers and the police, prior to the theft.

It is alleged the files were stolen over the course of a weekend by someone who had access to the locked office, while fake minutes of meetings that did not happen were added to Ms Gladman’s computer in an attempt to prove she had agreed not to share the information with the Home Office.

The council is also investigating the loss of four years of minutes from meetings about child grooming cases dating from 1999 to 2003.

Rotherham Council has also confirmed it is investigating allegations brought out during a recent trial of a Rotherham grooming gang who have been convicted to a combined 102 years in jail.

One victim told the court two social workers had warned her that her children could be taken away if she continued speaking to the media about her abuse at the hands of Arshid Hussain.

A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the witness had not previously raised this matter with the local authority. Following this matter coming to light during the court process further information will be gathered from the witness and the matter will be appropriately investigated.”

An independent review has also been ordered by the council after an abduction charge against Arshid Hussain involving the same witness was dropped mid-way through the trial due to evidence the 15-year-old girl’s foster carer had allowed her to go and see the defendant.

The council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the council has commissioned an external independent review which will look into the circumstances surrounding the survivor’s relationship with Arshid Hussain whilst in foster care, and the council intends to meet with the survivor, following that review, to discuss the findings.”