Exclusive: MP and Home Office failed to act on Rotherham grooming 11 years ago

ROTHERHAM’s horrific abuse concerns were raised with the Home Office and the town’s MP but never acted on, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane
Former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane

Abuse campaigners have revealed how in 2003 they met with a senior Home Office representative to say the Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police could not be trusted and called for urgent Government action.

And in 2009 they wrote to Denis MacShane with a five page letter detailing abuse concerns made by a Rotherham family but received no response.

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Mr MacShane has said he was never approached by constituents raising abuse concerns, and that was why he did not speak on the issue of Rotherham-specific abuse in the House of Commons.

The former MP said he has no knowledge of the letter, and that as it was not directly addressed to him but to a larger group he might not necessarily have had to act on it.

The letter was sent by charity Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation, then known as CROP, who said its own researcher had to stop work because of fears a serving police officer was passing information on to abusers.

Evidence of the 2009 letter, released by the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, comes as it emerges former Rotherham Council staff face criminal charges for misconduct in public office.

South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton revealed he asked the National Crime Agency to look at council failings and those of his own force as part of its investigation into how abuse claims were handled.

The abuse charity PACE said it still could not understand why when the Home Office was informed of widespread abuse, incompetence or worse in public office and the possibility of police corruption, civil servants did nothing.

Minutes from the charity show that in early 2002 the Home Office knew its own researcher was under pressure to stop asking difficult questions, with records stating “The Home Office in London…know that she is being asked to falsify data and has other problems.”

The Home Office though told Rotherham charities and youth workers that the researcher’s work was to be axed and, it can today be revealed, banned them from publishing the provisional abuse inquiries.

From 2003 onwards briefing notes had been prepared for the then Home Secretary David Blunket and the charity was told “The Home Secretary is ready to read what CROP sends.”

In 2004 charity chair of trustees Hilary Willmer met with Sue Jago from the Home Office “in which she promised the Home office would give a high profile to the issues we raised”.

Ms Willmer last night said: “When we found out what was happening to these girls we assumed everyone would be horrified and there would be immediate action. We had to painfully learn that that was not the case, including when we told the Home Office.”

Ms Willmer’s charity revealed a family support worker was appointed but was forced to quit because of “she believes at least one police officer was undermining her work and potentially putting her personally at risk as he/she was being paid by pimps/groomers for information.”

It emerged yesterday that South Yorkshire Police has now referred 14 people to the IPCC watchdog and may make further referrals should the criteria be met. The force said Both South Yorkshire Police and the independent investigation will remain in constant dialogue with the IPCC.

Mr MacShane said he has no memory of the charity rasing concerns with him. He said he was among the first to speak out in 2012 when the claims became public, and said many serving officers will have questions to answer.

“No one ever approached me on this, not a single person came to me as a constituent on child abuse by Asian males. This notion that the whole world knew and there was a cover up is balderdash.”

He added: “The real people who have questions to answer are Rotherham police officers. It happened at a district level and all those who served at a district command from roughly 1999 to 2010 need to exam their records to see what they knew.”

The Home Office did not provide a comment.