MPs quiz police chief on abuse case

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Beleaguered South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright will face questions from MPs about his knowledge of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

Mr Wright, who was in charge of children’s services in the town for five years before taking up his current post, is resisting fierce pressure to step down in the wake of a devastating report which found that at least 1,400 young people in Rotherham had been subjected to sexual abuse over 16 years.

He will appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which will also hear evidence from South Yorkshire’s chief constable David Crompton, senior Rotherham Council official Joyce Thacker and NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless, who is leading a review into the Home Office’s handling of abuse allegations.

Professor Alexis Jay’s report outlined how hundreds of children had been subjected to trafficking, rape and other sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013 and how their plight had been ignored by range of agencies, including police, councillors and council officials.

The chief executive of Rotherham Council Martin Kimber, who joined the authority in 2009, announced yesterday that he would step down in December in the hope a change of leadership would “strongly signal a new beginning at this critical time”.

Council leader Roger Stone resigned in the immediate aftermath of the report.

But Mr Wright, who has kept a low profile in recent days, has refused to give up his role.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May and Labour leader Ed Miliband have all called for Mr Wright to resign as has his deputy, Tracey Cheetham, who stepped down herself in protest at his failure to go.

When Labour threatened to drop him, Mr Wright resigned from the party. He has not been working at his office in Barnsley and last week cancelled a planned surgery, saying no members of the public had booked an appointment.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “The revelations from the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham are deeply troubling.

“The committee will be questioning those in positions of authority at the time that these offences were being committed on how the sexual exploitation of children on a horrifying scale was allowed to go unchallenged for so long.

“We will also be hearing from Sir Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC about progress in their ongoing review of how the Home Office handled historical allegations of child abuse.”

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