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Rotherham: Round-up of today's press comment

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The Rotherham child abuse scandal report has dominated most front pages, with a collective disbelief that matters were allowed to continue unchecked for long

The Times (£) reporter Andrew Norfolk, who has long written about the Rotherham scandal, said the report’s publication had seen Rotherham’s leadership “finally begun to confront the sins of its past”.

He said that as recently as 2012 “those holding the reins of power at the council were continuing the decade-long exercise in refusing fully to acknowledge and learn from disastrous past mistakes”.

Mr Norfolk details the council’s attempts to prevent The Times reporting on child abuse in the town, which he said were ended only by the intervention of then education secretary Michael Gove.

Last August The Times published information about a 15-year-old girl in the care of Rotherham social services who was allowed daily contact with a violent offender suspected of grooming teenagers for sex.

The council soon after set up the Jay inquiry. Mr Norfolk said: “It should not have taken more than a decade.”

The Daily Mail says girls were allowed to be abused by men of Asian origin “because the authorities feared being labelled racist”.

Its journalist Sue Reid says that she was “called a liar and racist for exposing this horror”.

The paper’s leader says: “Leave aside that the overwhelming majority of British Asians are as horrified by these crimes as anyone else.

“The inescapable conclusion is that the dictates of political correctness were placed above the duty to protect children from violent abuse.”

The Mirror carries a comment piece by Muhbeen Hussain, founder of Rotherham Muslim Youth Group, which says: “The Pakistani Muslim community now has to play its own part in ensuring that crimes of this nature are not repeated. The time for burying heads in the sand and hoping the problem passes by is over.

“It is happening and we have to recognise and deal with it. The actions of these men go against the very basic principle of Islam. And there is nothing in Pakistani culture that encourages or condones such vile acts. The Muslim community have never said don’t make prosecutions. We are highly against this kind of thing.”

Mr Hussain adds: “If we do not tackle this issue properly then the EDL and other far right groups will jump on the bandwagon and use this as a way to segregate communities.”

The Guardian’s leader describes events in Rotherham as “almost beyond belief”. It said of the victims, “if anything is worse than what they have suffered, it is the knowledge that it could have been prevented”.

The paper says all those involved should be held to account even if they no longer work for the council. Paul Vallely, visiting professor of public ethics and media at the University of Chester, says in a column that the Rotherham scandal should not be used to racially stereotype Asian men.

The Sun (£) leader blames political correctness by a left-wing council that feared upsetting “Labour-voting Muslims”. It also accuses the police of failing to act promptly and says both the police and council did nothing “not through oversight or incompetence. This was policy.”


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