External investigators called in by Rotherham Council over alleged theft of key child abuse files

Rotherham town centre
Rotherham town centre
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External investigators have been called in by Rotherham Council as part of a review into the alleged theft of key child abuse files in 2002, it has been revealed.

The Local Government Association has told MPs the investigators have been brought in as part of a professional malpractice investigation.

It is intended that the investigators will ‘corroborate’ ongoing internal investigations into the raid.

The council has promised to publish the results of the investigation, which is also examining the loss of four years of minutes from meetings about child grooming cases dating from 1999 to 2003.

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.

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.

A statement from the LGA to the Communities select committee said: “The council has also appointed external investigators to corroborate ongoing internal audit investigations into the alleged raid on the Risky Business premises and missing key documents.

“Any issues regarding a potential dereliction of duty will be covered by the investigation into professional malpractice currently underway.”

The LGA have also revealed that an external firm of solicitors is reviewing the behaviour of current and former employees mentioned in the Jay and Casey reports.

A spokeswoman for Rotherham Borough Council confirmed that an external company is assisting internal audit investigations that are being carried out into the alleged raid on Risky Business and missing Key Players’ Group minutes.

The spokeswoman added: “Separately commissioned external consultants are looking at the specific case studies highlighted in the Jay report, and the wider implications of the report in terms of the direction and leadership of children’s services during the period covered by the report.

“The outcomes of both will be published in due course, once investigations have been completed.”