ROTHERHAM CHILD SEX ABUSE SCANDAL - EDITOR’S OPINION: A little girl was raped with a broken bottle, and yet former Council Leader and Police and Crime Commissioner refused to answer questions in interview

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CHILDREN were sexually exploited in Rotherham by Pakistani men, en masse.

That is an undisputed fact: concrete evidence bears this out, and yet when the latest Government official to look under Rotherham Council’s rock did so, she found not an authority determined to right some heinous wrongs, but a hunkered down posse of belligerent bullies who were adamant that both Professor Alexis Jay and now Louise Casey were incompetent fantasists who’d made a mountain out of a molehill.

The ‘upstanding’ members of the council under investigation told Casey that there wasn’t an issue, and in fact that it was the fault of people like me; the media was out to get them, they said, and they’d done nothing wrong. Casey discovered public figures of senior authority who were more bothered about protecting their good name than they were the people who needed their protection the most.

‘That Jay woman is talking rubbish. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Don’t worry, folks. As you were.’

That was the attitude Casey encountered. As she puts it, ‘a resolute denial of what has happened in the borough’. I’m afraid that is unforgivable.

Rewind a little: Rotherham’s Youth Service tells the very same group of people that something untoward was going on right under their noses. Young people were being exploited by men from a particular community, the Pakistani community. What they’d identified was that a pattern of abuse was occurring - triangulated in the Casey/Jay reports between schools, care homes, takeaways and taxis - and that they needed the help of the police and social services to stamp it out, otherwise hundreds of children were at risk.

At risk of what?

When these sick individuals first meet these children, they are just that...children. Imagine your own nine-year-old daughter (that’s how young one victim was when the ‘brainwashing’ process began), and the things she does: dance classes, Harry Potter books, Frozen. Football, netball, swimming. Perhaps curious about make-up, princess dresses and mum’s high heels. In other words, innocence personified. That’s who these men targeted, and continue to target. By the time they’re done forcing them to have sex with them and indeed other men - impregnating them, and forcibly aborting their child - plying them with heroin, cannabis and alcohol, throwing petrol on them and threatening to burn them alive unless they perform sex acts against their will; raping them with broken bottles; by the time they’re bored and looking for the next vulnerable little girl, those victims are quivering, drug dependent (through no fault of their own) mentally scarred, isolated, suicidal shadows of their former self. They’re unlikely to ever recover. It’s a hellish life sentence.

So what happened to that Youth Service? RMBC silenced it by shutting it down. In that context, someone has to be held to account in a court of law, surely? Unfortunately these institutionalised bullies cannot silence Professor Jay. Louise Casey will not be shut down and The Star will not leave this issue alone until the paedophiles are behind bars and the people who allowed them to violate our children’s young minds and bodies are out of public office, and punished where appropriate.

Remember, 1,400 young people have been preyed upon, attacked, even, predominantly by Asian men. Jay and Casey both outline in no uncertain terms that the only people to blame for these vile criminal acts are the perpetrators themselves and do not blame the council, councillors nor the police for said acts. In fact Casey says the current council management were courteous and accommodating. Every single person they wanted to and needed to speak to stepped forward, that is apart from two men:

1: Former Leader of Rotherham Council Roger Stone

2: Former Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright

They both ‘declined’ to be interviewed, according to Casey. Gentlemen, what possible reason could you have for being the only ones not to contribute by interview in order to bring these paedophilic sex monsters to book? You are conspicuous by your absence in this pursuit of open justice. Why? You have effectively been charged with overseeing a culture of sexist control; of bullying those who disagree with you; of suppressing, silencing and gagging whistle-blowers; of bribing concerned staff with pay-offs; of allowing political correctness to go so mad within your organisations that you allowed Asian men to effectively rape children uninhibited. I’ll clear any appointment in my diary to afford you both the opportunity to reply to these accusations laid out in Casey’s report, a report which leaves the reader in no doubt that Rotherham Council is rotten to the core. Having read, and re-read her extensive paper, I am left wondering if a more scandalous cover-up in the history of local government exists?

Of course, there are some brilliant people on that authority who are just as upset at what has happened. It’s important to remember that, and Casey gives due praise early in her report. The people of Rotherham should be thankful to those people.

Please remember: not all Pakistani men living in Rotherham are paedophiles, or harbour such individuals. It seems bizarre for me to have to say it in such explicit terms, but I feel the need to spell this out, particularly since both Jay and Casey suggest the fear of saying some of these things is exactly why we’re in this mess.

The Asian community at large did not know this was happening. Some did, and kept it covered up. Likewise, we’re told, some did and tried to flag it up, but were forced to go away. Categorically, not everybody who knew - whether they tried to blow the whistle or cover it up - was from the Asian community. I urge you not to fall into the trap of the extreme right, and begin alienating friends and neighbours because of this. That is not acceptable.

But sadly, in its pursuit of multi-cultural cohesion, in pursuit of keeping everyone happy by keeping a lid on the fact that Asian sex predators were running amok in South Yorkshire - for pity’s sake they even knew who some of them were, but did nothing - they were paralysing themselves for fear of ‘the race card’ and RMBC has in fact done exactly the opposite of nurturing community assimilation. It has allowed the right wing to seize an open goal and create a race war in Rotherham, encouraging the likes of the English Defence League to maraud through a once proud multi-cultural town. That pride is now replaced with shame, fear and distrust. With anger, confusion and emotion. With suspicion, assumption and speculation.

So what next?

The ‘lawlessness’ alluded to in Casey’s report must change: the people of South Yorkshire and beyond demand arrests. They want to see these men in the dock, and sent to jail. Dare I say, many would like to see them hang for what they’ve done, make no mistake. The police failed the people of South Yorkshire on several fronts. They failed these young girls and boys when they needed them the most. The whole of RMBC cabinet has stepped down. The whole council will be replaced. Commissioners will assume their work and get the authority back on track. So what is South Yorkshire Police’s equivalent of such a far-reaching root-and-branch clear out of dead wood? The people deserve action, and transparent action at that.

The police force simply has to change its own mindset and culture. In the section of the Casey report headed ‘Where Were The Police?’ there is reference to these girls being ‘little slags.’ It goes on to reference an officer persuading a victim to drop her allegations because nobody would believe her. He then took her back to a takeaway - straight back into the clutches of her torturers. How will SYP reassure all of us that this will never happen again? To say ‘more needs to be done’, as they did today, is the understatement of the year. Yes, more does need to be done, but you need to show people what you’re doing, too. Otherwise, quite frankly, the public will not believe you’re doing anything at all.

I am convinced that no person in South Yorkshire will rest until we’re satisfied things have changed. We’re watching intensely. The pressure from all of us upon every failing body involved in this horrific saga to improve in open view will not relent. And if called upon, I will ensure myself and The Star will do all we can to assist. That’s a promise.