Daughter of Rotherham councillor implicated in abuse scandal helping to run support service for victims

The daughter of a former deputy council leader implicated in the Rotherham child sex grooming scandal is helping to run a support service for victims, it has been revealed.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16th March 2019, 5:48 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 12:30 pm

Norsheen Akhtar, aged 32, is head of child sexual exploitation at Rotherham Rise, with specific responsibility for supporting survivors of child sexual exploitation, the Times revealed yesterday.

Her father Jahangir Akhtar quit as Rotherham Borough Council deputy leader in 2013 after claims he facilitated the ‘handover’ of a child abuse victim to police from abuser Arshid Hussain in 2000.

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The charity, which primarily works with female domestic abuse victims, receives most of its funding from Rotherham Borough Council.

His resignation followed claims he helped broker a deal with police involving a relative – gang ringleader Arshid 'Mad Ash' Hussain. – who was said to have agreed to hand a missing 14-year-old girl to officers at a petrol station after receiving an assurance that he would not be prosecuted.

Mr Akhtar was also later stripped of his taxi-driver licence after a 'fit and proper person' test was introduced by the council.

The 58-year-old then lost his seat on the council at elections in 2014.

Miss Akhtar joined Rise after his resignation, The Times reported.

She is now a member of its senior management team and responsible for its counselling service for survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

In her role, she has full access confidential information on the charity's database, including names and addresses of victims, the newspaper reported.

An independent inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay found an estimated 1,400 Rotherham girls were targeted for sexual abuse by organised gangs of mostly British Pakistani men over 16 years.

Four brothers who were jailed for a total of 98 years in 2016 after being convicted of 53 child sex offences against 16 girls - Arshid, Basharat, Bannaras and Sageer Hussain - are related to the Akhtars.

Abuse victims helped by Rise voiced concern about the appointment.

One victim said: “The first thing to say is it's not her fault what her dad did but she was fetched in after the scandal and I don’t get how the council and the charity didn’t recognise it posed a potential conflict of interest.

“I’ve had to go somewhere completely different for my therapy and how are we supposed to have any faith in the authorities?”

There has been no suggestion that Ms Akhtar has in any way behaved inappropriately or unprofessionally.

Rotherham Rise chief executive Sue Wynne said: “All of our staff are bound by professional conduct codes to declare any personal connection to, or interest in any individual case.

“They are also bound by a professional duty of confidentiality not to discuss cases or client details outside of work.”

Jon Stonehouse, director for children's services at Rotherham Borough Council, said the 'appointment, employment and management of individual members of staff within the contract is a matter for Rotherham Rise'.

But he added: 'However, in these circumstances we will be looking at the due diligence undertaken.'

Miss Akhtar nor her father could be reached for comment.