Vulnerable girl, 14, made pregnant by violent criminal, 24, sues council for “failing to protect her”
- Married father-of-two Arshid Hussain allegedly groomed dozens of girls with the full knowledge of the authorities
- ‘Jessica’ was just one of around a dozen girls who believed he was their boyfriend
- Police found the teenager hiding, half-naked under Hussain’s bed but arrested her and let him go
- With permission of the authorities he was allowed to collect her from foster care and even attend doctor appointments with her
- Today Deputy Leader of the Council Jahngier Akhtar, who is related to Hussain, resigned over allegations that he helped the cover-up
The girl, known only as ‘Jessica’ claims she was abused daily by a 24-year-old man after social services failed to accept that she was a victim grooming.
On one occasion married father-of-two Arshid Hussain was even caught with the half naked schoolgirl under his bed but shocking documents released today reveal that police arrested her and let him go.
Now ‘Jessica’ is one four women suing Rotherham council over ‘systematic failures’ to protect them from ‘sexual abuse by predatory men when they were children’ according to their lawyers.
South Yorkshire solicitors Switalskis said they are working on behalf of the women who want to take legal action against the council because of the abuse they suffered.
Today in a stunning development Rotherham Council confirmed that Deputy Leader of council and vice chair of the police and crime panel Councillor Jahngier Akhtar has stepped down over allegations that he knew about the relationship.
The Times alleges that at the time Mr Akhtar, who is related to Hussain, not only knew about his relationship with a child but also that he set up a ‘deal under which a violent offender (Hussain) agreed to hand a missing child to police after being assured that he would not be detained’.
But Mr Akhtar, who was a taxi driver at the time, told MailOnline shortly before he stepped down today that the allegations are ‘total lies’ and also denied that there had been any such deal.
A spokesman confirmed that the council had referred the matter to the police’ to consider if any criminal offence has been committed and to undertake any appropriate criminal investigation.’
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has become known as Britain’s under-age sex capital, after a string of high profile cased where authorities have let down vulnerable children.
‘Jessica’ got pregnant twice by Hussain, who at the time had convictions for robbery and affray, and was about to be jailed for violent disorder.
But social services claimed they had ‘no power’ to stop him having sex with her despite the fact that she was only 14.
The Times revealed today that Hussain has never been prosecuted for suspected child sex offences, and is only now being investigated 14 years on.
At the time he was on a social services list of men believed to be grooming up to 40 young girls in the area and more than a dozen believed he was their ‘boyfriend’.
Jessica described how she met Hussain days after her 14th birthday in 1999, and after he bought her chicken and chips he took her to some woods and told her: ‘You’re not really 16 are you? You look too young’.
They starting seeing each other regularly and her parents could not keep them apart – in the end she was taken into ’emergency’ care.
But Jessica was rarely in school so the relationship continued, and Hussain would even follow her on holiday, on one occasion renting a caravan in Skegness so they could have sex there.
In June 2000 police and social services reports said that Hussain and the girl, now 15, were ‘known to be having a sexual relationship’ and she was ‘at risk of sexual abuse’.
But after he was sent to prison for violent disorder and intimidation in a different case, Jessica got an injunction against him.
Describing the infatuation Jessica said: ‘It was like somebody put a spell on me. I wanted to marry him. He didn’t tell me he was already married.
‘I didn’t think of myself as being groomed, but now I realize it was an abusive relationship. It can stay with you for the rest of your life.
‘Police and social services don’t want to take any responsibility for what happened back then’.
Speaking about when she was caught in bed with him by police, Jessica, which is not her real name, told The Times: ‘I was in bed upstairs with Ash when the police came into the house. He panicked and pulled on some trousers.
‘I grabbed a pair of knickers and tried to hide under the bed. One of the police officers told me to come out. He could see my legs sticking out.’;
Officers then found an offensive weapon and she was arrested, but despite noting later she was ‘at risk of sexual abuse’ Hussain was released.
A Home Office funded review, examining her case, quoted by The Times confirmed that Hussain, with permission of the authorities, was allowed to call her mobile phone and even to collect her from her foster carer’s home.
It said: ‘Perpetrator was allowed to contact (Jessica) via mobile telephone, was allowed to arrange to collect her from foster carer’s home by ringing in advance and asking to meet him at the end of street’ with the ‘knowledge and consent’ of social services.
It also said there was an ‘unwillingness to recognize danger of relationship’ an ‘in the absence of any criminal prosecution of perpetrator as a pimp, all rumors about him were speculation and there was no cause for concern.’
Staff ‘also took some comfort in knowing where (Jessica) was’, it said, and Hussain was even allowed to attend appointments with her GP.
Solicitor Riyaz Shaikh told MailOnline this afternoon that his client Hussain is unwell and unable to comment today.
A spokesman for Rotherham Borough Council said following Operation Yewtree, the authority asked South Yorkshire Police (SYP) to thoroughly review all historical cases that may be linked to child sexual exploitation.
He added: ‘That review is ongoing and continues with a number of live and ongoing investigations.
‘The Council wishes to support SYP and not potentially compromise this process. As such we will not be making further comments on the article without further consultation with our police colleagues.’
In response to the claims, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said he was deeply concerned.
Mr Wright said: ‘The allegations made in today’s Times newspaper about the way in which various agencies failed to adequately combat child sexual exploitation and protect vulnerable victims 14 years ago concerns me deeply.
‘The approach taken today is vastly improved, and as commissioner, my determination is to ensure that the approach that is now being taken by those agencies in responding to and investigating allegations of such crimes is consummately professional.
‘I will be seeking assurances from the chief constable and other agencies that all allegations of such crimes are thoroughly investigated, that victims are fully supported and that this process is underpinned by the most robust and thorough processes and policies.’
The commissioner said extra resources had been provided to South Yorkshire Police to help combat child sexual exploitation and he noted that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is about to review the approach to the problem being taken by all police forces.
In 2010 five men, described by a judge as ‘sexual predators’, were given lengthy jail terms after they were found guilty of grooming teenage girls for sex.
The prosecution was the first of a series of high-profile cases in the last three years that have revealed the exploitation of young girls in towns including Rochdale, Derby and Oxford.
Last year it emerged police in the town turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual abuse of white girls by gangs of largely Pakistani men for more than a decade.
Research, reports and case files also revealed that council officials were desperate to cover up any racial link to the abuse of young girls.
Following the 2010 case, The Times claimed details from 200 restricted-access documents showed how police and child protection agencies in the South Yorkshire town had extensive knowledge of these activities for a decade, yet a string of offences went un-prosecuted.
The allegations led to a range of official investigations, including a probe by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
But The Times defended its decision to publish saying it believed stories like this ‘will encourage others to come forward to tell police what happened to them so that successful prosecutions of their abusers will be more rather than less likely.’
It said: ‘The police have asked us not to publish (the story) at this time for fear of prejudicing their own inquiries.
‘While we recognise the significant advances that have recently been made in the force’s approach to tackling child sexual exploitation, we do not believe that enough has yet been done.
‘South Yorkshire Police has had more than a dozen years to investigate the crimes against (the girl).
‘It is almost a year since this newspaper first highlighted the abuse inflicted upon other vulnerable girls in Rotherham by groups of offenders who were allowed to act with virtual impunity.”
David Greenwood, of Switalskis, said: “It is important to remember that at the time of the abuse they were children under the age of 16 and could not legally consent.”
Referring to the Home Affairs Select Committee report, Mr Greenwood said: ‘The report noted part of the problem is that adults may misunderstand the grooming process and assume that the young person was a willing participant in a relationship, rather than the victim of sexual abuse.’