Rotherham sex abuse survivor criticises payment to paedophile informant

Sammy Woodward (BBC)
Sammy Woodward (BBC)

A woman abused by a sex gang leader in Rotherham has criticised a decision to pay a child rapist £10,000 to infiltrate a paedophile ring.

Sammy Woodward, now in her 30s but who was 14 when she was abused, spoke out after a convicted sex offender, who drugged an underage girl and invited another man to rape her after him, was paid thousands of pounds to help detectives secure prosecutions against a sex gang in Newcastle.

The informant was recruited by Northumbria Police to work on an undercover operation, one strand of which, known as Operation Shelter, has just finished going through the courts and led to the conviction of 18 members of an Asian grooming gang which targeted underage girls and vulnerable young women in Newcastle between 2010 and 2014.

Sammy, who was instrumental in unmasking the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal - in which 1,400 children were abused by mainly Asian men between 1997 and 2013 - said vulnerable people could have been harmed by the informant.

"He (the informant) has been placed back in there with vulnerable people who could have been hurt," she said.

"It's great to see these people behind bars, but I think there could have been better ways of doing that."

The Newcastle gang members were convicted of, or admitted, charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution, in a series of trials at Newcastle Crown Court.

Older men preyed on immature teenagers who were plied with cocaine, cannabis, alcohol or mephedrone, then raped or persuaded into having sexual activity with the lure of the illegal drugs at parties.

Jim Gamble, former chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, also criticised the payment to the rapist informant.

He said the tactic went 'way over the line'.

"Personally, I can't envisage any circumstances where I would have authorised payment to someone convicted of rape," he added.

"I can't imagine how you could have control mechanisms in place with an informant of that type ... that would give you reassurance that they didn't still represent a risk to young and vulnerable women, given what I know about this person's history."

* Sammy's attacker in Rotherham, Arshid Hussain, was one of five men jailed for a total of 102 years last year for exploiting 15 young girls.

Ringleader Hussain, 41, of East Cowick, Goole, was sentenced to 35 years behind bars.

His brothers Basharat Hussain, 39 and Bannaras Hussein, 37, got 25 years and 19 years respectively.