Rotherham scandal: Shaun Wright unlikely to face action over claims he misled MPs

Shamed former police commissioner Shaun Wright is unlikely to face action over claims he misled MPs about what he knew of Rotherham's abuse scandal.

Monday, 6th June 2016, 6:00 am
Shaun Wright at Rotherham Town Hall in September 2014

A meeting of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel will decide on Thursday whether to refer the matter to Parliament after the IPCC refused to carry out an investigation and a report warned the panel themselves couldn’t take any sanctions against Mr Wright if they conducted their own probe.

Panel members have also been warned while the case can be referred to Parliament, it uses contempt powers ‘very sparingly’.

It follows complaints to the IPCC over whether he gave misleading evidence under oath to a Home Affairs Select Committee meeting in September 2014 about his knowledge of the extent of the town’s child sexual exploitation problem when he was a Rotherham councillor in charge of children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

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In October 2015, two complaints were made to the panel that Mr Wright may have misled in his evidence to the Home Select Committee which were then passed on to IPCC.

In March, the IPCC referred the complaints back to the panel after obtaining legal advice ‘that deliberately misleading a Select Committee was not in fact a criminal offence, but if proved would be a contempt of Parliament’.

A report to the panel by legal adviser Stuart Fletcher said one possible option is for members to hold a meeting to ‘hear any explanation as to the conduct involved’.

But Mr Fletcher added: “The former PCC would not be obliged to engage with this process and at the end of the process there would not be any sanctions which the panel could impose.”

The report added that an alternative option would be to refer the matter to Parliament via the Home Affairs Select Committee for a decision to be made on what further action, if any, to take.

But Mr Fletcher said: “Parliament’s powers in respect of contempt are used very sparingly.”

Mr Wright faced repeated calls to step down in the wake of a report in August 2014 which found at least 1,400 children were abused in the town from 1997 to 2013. Mr Wright told MPs he had been unaware of the scale of the problem and ‘could not recall’ a meeting with a victim in which she said she had given him a ‘detailed graphic account’ of her abuse. MP Paul Flynn later told Mr Wright he was ‘the least credible witness I have ever come across’.