Don't drop the ball of Labour's Rotherham disgrace

One factor has emerged about the political culture at Rotherham. The politicians, police, and Pakistani community were all too palsy-walsy. It was a cocktail of multi-culti political correctness, and cronyism. Meanwhile, under Labour's watch, kids were being raped

Rotherham: Looks so ordinary, but what happened was extraordinary
Robin Mitchinson
On 28 September 2014 10:59

Salami  through the slicer is the most apt description of the Home Affairs Select Committee, aka the Keith Vaz Star Chamber, when it grilled the Rotherham Five --  the present Chief Constable, his predecessor, the Chief Executive, the head of the department Joyce Thacker, and Shaun Wright the (then) PCC.

Such was the catalogue of incompetence, negligence and abuse of office that that it might have been the scenario for political satire were it not so disgusting and shameful.

First up was Chief Constable Crompton. Compared with what was to come, he had a fairly easy ride, although he had a difficult time when the case of a Home Office researcher was raised. Her report exposing the scandal had been trashed and she had been threatened at night by two police officers who said, ‘Wouldn’t it be a bad thing if some of these men (abusers) found out where you live?’

Her key files had also been stolen, and although the names of  the key-holders were known to the police, no action was taken.

The Committee also gave him an uncomfortable time when they touched on the Cliff Richard farce in which the police had given the BBC a photograph of Cliff’s house so that their helicopter went to the right place.

Keith Vaz commented, ‘The evidence we have heard was not only shocking to us but quite harrowing in respect of a number of the cases that were mentioned. I  find it incredible that the police seemed not to know about what was happening in the South Yorkshire area, in particular in Rotherham’.

Next was the former Chief Constable, Meredydd Hughes, and the same theme was pursued. The Committee was clearly not buying his claim that he knew nothing about the child abuse epidemic despite have been Deputy, then Chief, Constable during almost the whole period.

Three times he made the same reply that he was not aware of the scale and the scope of the problem. What he really meant was that he was more interested in harassing motorists, for which he was both notorious and proud; he boasted that he had tripled breathalyser convictions during his term.

Michael Ellis MP commented ‘.. it was incompetence on your part to be in such a highly paid position and not to know that child exploitation on an industrial scale was going on within your force area. At the very least you were grossly incompetent and negligent in the functioning of your Duties’.  Vaz said ‘We find your evidence totally unconvincing’.

Then it was the turn of Martin Kimber, the Chief Executive, and Joyce Thacker.

Andrew Norfolk of The Times had published an expose of the Rotherham scandal. Instead of pursuing the issues  raised, this pair tied to suppress the story. Ellis asked ‘ How much, Mr Kimber, did you waste of taxpayers’ money on the legal action against The Times newspaper seeking to block them from doing the public service that they did?

How much? How much did those lawyers cost?’ Answer came there none.

Ellis went on ‘: Mr Kimber, is it a rotten borough council that you have been presiding over that, first, blames victims; secondly, blocks complaints of horrific child sexual abuse and exploitation over a prolonged period of time; and, thirdly, seeks an injunction against The Times newspaper, who quite frankly with Andrew Norfolk have done more to expose this incident than a lot of very highly paid public servants who are a disgrace to the public service?

The Committee was equally dismissive of Joyce Thacker; ‘….it is the view of this Committee that the evidence we have received from Joyce Thacker today has been unimpressive and we believe that she should be asked to step down, to reflect on her position and, if she does not do so, she should resign’. She quit.

Then came the defenestration of the PPC, Shaun Wright, who had steadfastly refused to resign although none of the local authorities would any longer work with him.

Paul Flynn MP asked ‘Can I tell you that having been here 26 years, having served on thousands of meetings of Select Committee, you are the least credible witness I have ever come across?

Wouldn’t you agree that you are a busted flush, you are a dead PCC walking? No one will take you seriously in future. You will have no influence. What is the point of continuing?’ He went on:

‘But there is no support for you, except your own love of your salary, isn’t that true? It is the only reason you are carrying on. I blush at my own party. I have been a member of this party for three times as long as you and I am rather ashamed of the fact that I have shared a party with you. What you have revealed yourself to be here today is a charlatan who is in love with office, in love with a salary and you are a disgrace’.

Vaz then said ‘. It is the unanimous view of this Committee that you should resign immediately’. Which he did.

So the top five have gone. One factor has emerged about the political culture at Rotherham. The politicians, police, and Pakistani community were all too palsy-walsy.  For example, ex-Chief Constable Hughes was shortlisted as a Labour candidate for the election  of PCC, but was not finally selected. One-party rule always declines into corruption.

What happens now? Hughes is in danger of losing his pension. Kimber will never get another top job but he will have a pension not unadjacent to £80,000 a year plus a lump sum to ease the pain. Thacker has gone on ‘undisclosed terms’. Which generally means ‘quite a lot’.

We are now entitled to expect the dock at Rotherham courts to be overcrowded with young Pakistani men charged with rape, assault, abduction, drug dealing and gun running, which financed their crimes against children.

It could be a long wait.

Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world

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