Charity defends CSE employment of ex-Rotherham councillor's daughter

Charity defends CSE employment of ex-Rotherham councillor's daughter

By Gareth Dennison | 15/03/2019

Charity defends CSE employment of ex-Rotherham councillor's daughter
Jahangir Akhtar

ROTHERHAM Rise has defended having the daughter of a former councillor implicated in the child sex scandal as its head of CSE counselling.

Norsheen Akhtar (32) is on the domestic abuse charity’s senior management team, with specific responsibility for supporting survivors of child sexual exploitation, the Times revealed yesterday (Thursday).

Her father Jahangir Akhtar stepped down as Rotherham Borough Council deputy leader in 2013 after claims he facilitated the “handover” of victim Sammy Woodhouse to police from abuser Arshid Hussain in 2000.

South Yorkshire Police dropped the investigation — saying there was insufficient witness evidence — in 2013 and Mr Akhtar lost his seat the following May.

Rotherham Rise chief executive Sue Wynne said: “All of our staff are bound by professional conduct codes to declare any personal connection to, or interest in any individual case. 

“They are also bound by a professional duty of confidentiality not to discuss cases or client details outside of work.”

Rotherham Rise, which runs a refuge for ten families, had its council contract extended for 18 months in October 2017.

Jon Stonehouse, the charity’s children’s services director, said the employment and management of individual staff was a matter for Rotherham Rise.

He added: “The council has awarded contracts totalling £442,000 over the last five years to Rotherham Rise.

"Hundreds of people have received support relating to domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation as a result.

"Ensuring that these people are able to access the high quality services that they need is a priority for the council. 

"The appointment, employment and management of individual members of staff within the contract is a matter for Rotherham Rise and the council would not ordinarily be involved in such matters unless concerns were raised.

"However in these circumstances we will be looking at the due diligence undertaken." 

Ms Woodhouse tweeted: “Why didn’t Rise & council inform victims, who were witnesses against him, that his daughter has access to all our info?”

Others on social media were keen to avoid guilt by association, saying Ms Akhtar should not be held accountable for alleged actions of her father.

Mr Akhtar (58), who was defeated by UKIP in 2014, has denied intimidation allegations. 

The Gowlings reports into the council’s past conduct, published in September 2017, revealed that Mr Akhtar could have been investigated for intimidation as a councillor — had he not lost his seat.

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