NO former or current Rotherham Borough Council officers should face disciplinary action over the town’s child sexual exploitation cover-up, an independent investigation has ruled.
A report published by law firm Gowlings this afternoon said there was evidence that opportunities had been missed to “improve outcomes” on CSE during the period covered by the Jay Report of 2014.
But it concluded that Gowling’s year-long probe into former council officers’ conduct between 1997 to 2013 — during which time Prof Jay said 1,400 children had been abused or groomed — had not uncovered grounds to hold any individual to account.
A summary of the findings of six reports about the scandal, which is being discussed at Rotherham Town Hall this afternoon, said that there was evidence both then-chief executive Ged Fitzgerald and social services chief Jackie Wilson let chances slip by to act.
The report said: “It is important to be clear that we have not found that either of these people were uniquely culpable for the Council's response to emerging evidence of CSE.
“But there are points at which each missed opportunities to have changed the outcomes.”
The report into officers’ conduct also singled out Phil Rogers, strategic leader of culture, leisure and lifelong learning from 2001 to 2009 for criticism but said he should not face any action.
It continued: “Whilst there may have been errors of judgement or missed opportunities as detailed in this report; and a failure, in some cases to tackle cultural issues effectively (or, in Mr Rogers' case, to grasp issues in a service for which he was directly responsible); we have found no culpable behaviour which could now justify any form of legal action or regulatory involvement of any kind.”
The council should refer the report’s findings to Mr Fitzgerald and Ms Wilson’s respective current employers, Gowlings said.
Ms Wilson is now director of performance, quality and innovation at Doncaster Children's Services Trust, and Mr Fitzgerald is chief executive of Liverpool Council, although is currently suspended due to a separate investigation.
A 2015 investigation by Gowlings cleared Ms Wilson, who was then director for children and families at Doncaster, of any wrongdoing while she was working in Rotherham.
Click HERE for LIVE updates from the meeting and more on the reports.